The Anne Arundel County Police Department is hosting a Minority Youth Advisory Council to provoke direct and intentional conversations between Anne Arundel County students (age 14-18) with members of local law enforcement.
Youth will be encouraged to research and discuss topics of interest to them, and they will receive information on things like restorative practices, trauma, substance abuse prevention, mental health, as well as other topics from guest speakers.
Each meeting will begin with Police-Youth dialogue rooted in restorative justice, allowing every participant to give voice to their feelings and concerns in a safe space with the support of the group. This will be followed by a town hall-style forum to address community concerns and needs. Officers will then assist in creating youth-led advocacy projects and recommendations based on identified needs.
“We’re specifically looking for minorities, “ said Anne Arundel County Police Department Sergeant Kam Cooke. “We’re looking for that under-represented population. We want kids that are enrolled in school and between the ages of 14 and 18.”
The department’s initiative is intended to be a catalyst for conversation between the department and area minority youth.
The goal will be to meet face-to-face as COVID allows, to increase understanding. The council may have to meet through teleconferencing to start,due to the coronavirus.but AACPD wants to meet youth of different backgrounds right where they’re at in a safe location where they can discuss all kinds of topics and issues impacting teens, Cooke said.
“It’s basically just a platform to open up a dialogue between the police department and youth...to have that open and honest conversation,” he said.
Along with learning from the perspectives of minority youth, the department hopes youth might learn about the perspectives of law enforcement officers.
When asked if the police department was considering a ride-along program for youth council members, Cooke said at this point he didn’t believe that was likely.
The time frame for standing up the youth council is to have the first session sometime in late November or early December.
The deadline to apply is currently set for this Friday, November 13.