Police department creates youth program to build bridge, ease fear

HOUSTON – The Houston Police Department joined with the Houston Health Department's My Brother’s Keeper Initiative Monday to talk to high school students about what they can do to make officers feel safe.

“We call it win-win-- we want the officer to win, we want the officer safe, and we also want the citizen safe,” Deputy Stephen Williams said.

After 23 years as a sheriff's deputy, Williams is helping to spearhead the My Brother's Keeper Initiative in Houston. Part of that is how to avoid violent confrontations with law enforcement.

“We want to train the citizen to understand that they control the encounter with law enforcement more than they know," Williams said. “We teach them how to make the officer feel safe the entire time so that we don’t have the escalation."

“They have me thinking like ‘wow, is that going to happen to me?'” said student Jada Russ.

Going into the workshop at Wheatley High School, Russ feared any interaction with police officers. A video and some small group discussion with HPD officers changed that.

“That’s why we come to them on this level so that they can see we’re human also, we have fears, and our job is difficult," Williams said.

When asked if they thought they have a changed attitude about what the police department represents, students openly agreed.

“Yes. At first I thought they were all bad but I didn’t know.  They just not here to harm us, they here to help us,  Keep us out of trouble," Russ said.

This program is just one of many stops for the win-win program as they continue to try to bridge that gap between law enforcement officers and citizens.

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