CMPD youth outreach program aimed at breaking barriers between police, community

Knowing how to act when you come face to face with a police officer can make all the difference in the outcome, especially for children. That's why Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police is reaching out to help youngster understand how they do their job.

These kids are learning up close and personal how to act when stopped by a police officer. Role reversal helps them understand the subtleties of the job.

Frank Alvarez, a rising sophomore at Hopewell High School, is attending the class at the urging of his father.

"I learned the cops don't mean to annoy us, really they just want to make us safe and the whole community he safe," he said. "They want to make sure no one gets hurt."

This is the first time CMPD has performed an outreach like this, according to Community Coordinator Officer Bill Haynes from the Freedom Division.

"So in their head they'll have an idea of what's actually occurring versus what they may have seen on social media, which is not always the best representation," said Haynes.

Officer Haynes says this helps break down barriers within the Hispanic community, and it comes at the request from The Lady of Guadalupe Church in west Charlotte. 

“One of the things that I can say is that we’re pleased with about working with this community out here is the reporting there’s been a lot more reporting going on.. people coming up to us and telling us what’s going on in their neighborhoods .. and that’s what we’re trying to get started.”

It's a three day program where kids not only learn about traffic stops, but they go inside the jail, courts, CMPD headquarters, and they learn how a police officer handles conflict resolution. 

“I’m going to tell my dad that cops really aren’t that bad because usually they have a bad reputation from some of the things we see on the news, but really they’re just out here to help us," Alvarez said. 

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