(WSVN) - A South Florida police department has found a unique way to reach out to kids in their community. 7’s Craig Stevens shows us how local children are being taught to “Knock Crime Out.”
It may look like a scene out of a “Rocky” movie, but these aren’t actors! They are teens learning the sport of boxing from some of North Miami’s finest.
North Miami Police Officer James Stuart Jr.: “Our job as a police department is to build positive and productive leaders. You’ll see quite a few success stories as you walk around here today.”
Omar is one of the success stories for the North Miami Police Athletic League. He’s currently the No. 1 teen boxer in Florida, and he got his start in the program.
Omar Guzman Jr.: “In middle school I got into a little trouble for getting suspended and stuff, and my dad didn’t want me lying around for the two weeks, so he made me join a gym.”
The punishment turned into a passion, not only keeping him out of trouble, but opening his eyes to opportunities he never imagined.
Omar Guzman Jr.: “I’ve learned everything. To be a role model, to become a man, how to own up to the truth, how to do everything, how to keep myself healthy as well. Before I started this program, I actually only knew about North Miami and maybe Hallandale. When I started the program, I went to Georgia, to South Carolina. I went upstate, I went to Ft. Myers, Jacksonville.”
The kids aren’t the only ones benefitting. Officers say the Police Athletic League helps them build better relationships with kids.
Officer James Stuart Jr.: “It keeps the kids out of trouble. It gives them someplace to go.”
North Miami Police Officer J.P. Calderon was a part of the program when he was a teen. He says he’s proud to be a cop, but surprised to see how the relationships between kids and officers have changed.
North Miami Police Officer J.P. Calderon: “I’ve had a situation where I would go to shake their hands and they get scared, because they may be taught the police are bad.”
He says the boxing league is helping to change the community’s perspective of police, and helping kids like Omar realize they’re all on the same team — working to knock crime out.
Officer J.P. Calderon: “They’re really happy to see the police, and you see the difference.”
Omar Guzman Jr.: “I think that kids should learn that the police aren’t trying to harm you; they’re trying to protect you.”
The Police Athletic League and House of Boxing Champions offer their programs at no charge to kids in the community.
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