In February the SaintA Independent Living Services department connected with the Milwaukee Police Department’s STOP Program, and three police officers came to SaintA’s to meet with our participants. Our goal was to educate our young adults, most of whom are former foster children, about the law and what is legal and what is illegal. Because of their lack of stability and family support, this population – here and across the country — is at a great risk of getting involved with police, and many end up incarcerated.
Our ILS participants had a chance to write down questions on a piece of paper, and when they were done they got to ball up their questions and throw them at the officers. They didn’t know what to do, but the officers knew this would be a good ice breaker and would lighten the mood for our participants. And once the first question was thrown, it was on!
Some of our people had multiple questions. The officers did a great job of speaking to our participants, and for their part, our people had some inquisitive follow-up questions. The officers stayed for two hours answering questions.
This interaction helped to build a great connection with the MPD and educated our participants about their legal rights. It was amazing watching the trust slowly build between the officers and our participants, knowing that this positive interaction would help in the future.
All in all, this was a successful event, and we plan on having the MPD STOP Program back again. Fostering positive community connections is vital to growing and establishing independence.
To learn more about Students Talking it Over with Police (STOP), visit the Office of Community Outreach & Education website.
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