In my 30 years of law enforcement, I have found that our relationship with the community sets the tone for effective policing. Community/Police relationships form the foundation that allows us to work cooperatively to effectively fight crime and keep our city safe.
This holds true especially as it involves our relationship with at-risk teens. We want to keep those lines of trust and communication open with our young students and keep them pointed in the right direction so they can make good decisions.
Thanks to the grant we received by the Department of Justice – Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, we launched a pilot program called Teens and Police Service (TAPS) Academy for students ages 13 to 16.
TAPS Academy builds upon the groundwork established by community policing programs such as: D.A.R.E., G.R.E.A.T., Citizens Police Academy, Explorers, Junior Police Academy, Citizens Patrol, and other school/community based initiatives. Our program moves community policing to the next phase of engaging the groups least likely to participate, at-risk youth.
The Teen and Police Service Academy places both groups (at-risk teens and police mentors) on equal footing in order to exchange ideas and learn from one another with the hope that we can close the social distance between the two groups.
This program is only possible because of the hard work and commitment of our partners: Community Oriented Policing Services, University of Houston Clear Lake, Texas Southern University and Houston Independent School District’s Beechnut Academy.