Flynn’s Force

How Police Reach Out to Youth

The STOP program connects police and youth to help gain their cooperation with cops.

By Mark Doremus– May 28th, 2013 12:10 pm

The youth in the city feel police are harassing them no matter what the reason for the stop is. The youth often show their distain by being disorderly, running or fighting. I have spoken to youth and they have made it clear they do not want or like police interaction.

-“Greg,” a Milwaukee police officer, quoted in officer William Singleton’s masters thesis about the STOP program.

There’s a disconnect between police officers and minority youth in the inner city. Many young people of color on the streets in high-crime neighborhoods of Milwaukee don’t understand or trust the police. And that doesn’t just hurt the police department’s image, it also makes it harder for police to enlist the help of residents in trying to nab the perpetrators of crimes.

To address that problem, a couple of Milwaukee cops have created the STOP program. The acronym stands for “Students Talking it Over with Police.” It’s a home-grown Milwaukee curriculum that brings young people with leadership potential face to face with police to promote mutual respect and understanding.

Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn initiated the project in August 2010. He challenged police officers in District Five to come up with a program that would get police and young people communicating.

Officers William Singleton and Cullin Weiskopf seized the opportunity and developed the STOP program. They’ve presented the curriculum to about 500 young people so far. The program has been evaluated by researchers at the UW-Milwaukee, and they’ve concluded that it works on a number of levels: it informs young people about police practices, gives them a better understanding of their constitutional rights and – perhaps most importantly – helps them achieve more positive interactions with police by giving them some conflict-avoidance skills.

Read the complete article here.