Councilman Brown reveal new youth program
In an attempt to improve communication between the Vallejo’s youth and police, the department and Vallejo Councilman Hakeem Brown unveiled a new youth outreach initiative, modeled after the Denver Police Department’s successful youth program.
Also partnering with the Vallejo City Unified School District, police will host forums between officers and youth “to ensure future encounters result in less trauma, less distrust, and less escalation toward violence,” according to a VPD press release.
“This is a program that Richard Fisher and I created modeled on a Denver program to help our youth understand their constitutional rights when they come in contact with our officers, educate our officers on adolescent development, de-escalation techniques, and how police behaviors and actions impact the response of a youth,” Brown wrote on his Facebook page announcing the new program.
Officers will receive training from curriculum obtained from the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee, officials said in the same news release.
“The curriculum focuses on how adolescents think, the lens through which they may see the world, and how that may shape the way they act when approached by the police,” they explained.
Denver police will provide a three-day’ train-the-trainer’ for at least 10 Vallejo police officers,
and members from BART and Oakland police departments, acting Vallejo Police Capt. Jason Potts confirmed in a separate interview with the TimesHerald.
He said 50 youths are expected to participate in the program.
“Our officers are looking forward to engaging with our youth. Those non-enforcement contacts are invaluable to increasing trust and understanding,” Potts added. “We are confident it will be achieved.”
According to Denver’s Office of the Independent Monitor, 631 youth and 38 Denver police officers participated in the program in 2018, which began as a pilot program in 2015.
“This lack of trust means that youth are often scared of and unwilling to cooperate with police, causing many police contacts, however minor, to escalate into confrontations or arrests due to misunderstandings and fear between young people and police officers,” a report from the Denver’s Office of the Independent Monitor reads.
Participants in Vallejo’s program are expected to explore the role of trauma in their lives and “learn tools to more effectively manage that trauma,” the same VPD news release states.
“Facilitators also intend to provide participants with a space to gain empathy and self awareness through the context of youth and officer experiences,” it says. “The goal is to improve outcomes by equipping participants with tools to ensure future encounters result in less trauma, less distrust, and less escalation towards violence.”
Brown said in a statement to the Times-Herald that he will continue to make positive changes in the city of Vallejo.
“As a father, nothing is more important to me than keeping our schools and young people safe,” Brown said. “I am encouraged that our new Chief of Police recognizes that gang and drug prevention programs and a more effective, community and constituentbased approach is important to the Vallejo community. I couldn’t be more pleased that my vision for a strong youth and community policing model is being launched.”
A community meeting is scheduled from 5:30 to 7 p.m., March 20, inside the Vallejo Room, located on the 1st Floor of the John F. Kennedy Public Library, 505 Santa Clara St.
All interested community members are encouraged to attend.