Somerville's Teen Empowerment and the Somerville Police Department have organized a dialogue session so that new police officers and local teens can get to know each other.
The session takes place Tuesday, and here's the announcement (lightly edited parts italicized) from Teen Empowerment:
Teen Empowerment, Somerville Police To Hold Dialogue Session
(Somerville, Mass.) — On Tuesday, November 27, ten Somerville youth and four new police officers will gather at the Somerville Youth Center, 165 Broadway, 4:00-5:30 p.m. with the goal of breaking down the stereotypes each group has of the other and looking for ways to work together to increase community safety. The dialogue is a part of the final stages of training for the new officers, who started working in Somerville in November, fresh from the Police Academy.
"We always talk about community policing in the abstract,” said Somerville Police Chief Thomas Pasquarello. “This is a great first step for new officers to experience working in the community."
The afternoon will include interactive exercises, one-on-one conversations, and small group conversations led by Teen Empowerment staff and aimed and generating concrete ways to facilitate better youth-police relations. According to Teen Empowerment Somerville Director Jaime Lederer, many of these youth are overcoming generations of anti-police feeling. At the same time, police are trained to not take simple interactions on the street at face value, which can lead to misunderstandings. The dialogue session is designed to build relationships, which leads to honest dialogue and a process jointly owned by police and youth.
Founded in 1992, The Center for Teen Empowerment, Inc. empowers youth and adults as agents of positive individual, institutional, and social change. Each year, youth conduct over 150 initiatives involving some 6,000 people. The dialogue sessions are funded in part by the state’s Charles E. Shannon Public Safety Initiative grant.