Police Training Institute Comes to San Bernardino
By Eliz Dowdy, Staff Writer
The organization Strong Nation brought one of its stellar programs to San Bernardino recently, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. It joined with the San Bernardino Police Dept., Youth Action Project, and Young Visionaries Youth Leadership Academy to host a town hall meeting. The event held at the Boys and Girls Club of San Bernardino provided an opportunity for the youth and law enforcement personnel to serve on a panel and respond to questions posed by members of Strong Nation that dealt with creating understanding between the two groups. Black youth, especially males, are not eager to embrace local law enforcement in many instances because of unarmed shootings and levels of force used. However, the organization Fight Crime: Invest in Kids specializes in bringing them together to create an aura of understanding. The parent organization, Council for a Strong Nation, was founded in 1996 by top police chiefs who realized the root of crime could be strangled by putting more kids on the success track for their lives. There are four other programs that operate under the umbrella of The Council for a Strong Nations. The other four are: Strength on Families; Strength in Communities; Strength in the Economy; and Strength in National Security. In 2016 the Council invested in early childhood programs in twenty-seven states, including California.
The San Bernardino town hall meeting brought Mayor Cary Davis and Police Chief Jarrod Burguan to the Boys and Girls Club. Chief Burguan stated the town hall emphasizes the desire to move forward. “The police department we have today has come a long way,” he said. “We have to have in our minds a vision.” He spoke before the twelve member panel. The officers on the panel were: Captain Raymond W. King; Sgt. Shauna Gates; Det. Nelson Carrington; Officer Araceli Mata; and Sgt. Vickie Cervantes.
Youth panelists were Tyrese Colling, Lamont Evans, Malik Collins, Emmanuel Lorenzo, Oscar Hernandez, and Kevin Peterson.
The moderator asked questions that are relevant to issues that tend to separate the two groups. A pertinent observation was: two or three Black or Brown youth are gathered in together, police arrive and many times appear to have a pre-conceived idea that something is not right. One of the responses from law enforcement was that people refuse to communicate with them!
Another question dealt with ways we can show we really care. Answers from panelists were varied.
The town hall event provided a safe place for youth, community members and law enforcement to gather and have an open discussion according to their press release. The event kicked off a two day, sixteen hour training program entitled, “Connecting Youth & Communities with Law Enforcement” (CYCLE).
Terrence Stone, CEO of Young Visionaries Leadership Institute stated: “if we want to make our community a better place, we need to walk the walk and talk the talk, and I think today shows that the law enforcement community in San Bernardino is really listening to what the community has to say.”
Twenty-one San Bernardino police officers were scheduled to participate in the CYCLE training. The training provides tools and techniques that first responders can utilize to defuse conflict and encourage positive interactions with young people, and to reduce negative experiences for community members.
For additional information about the organization Strong Nation, visit their website: www.strongnation.org/fightcrime