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Section 3

How can we fix it

By creating purposeful opportunities for police officers and students to have positive

interactions, both parties will have better understanding of each other. For example, there was a

peace rally that Blackstone Academy had in the spring of 2015 where all the public schools, such

as William E. Tolman High School, Charles E. Shea High School, Central Falls High School,

and BACS walked to a park with police and spent time in a casual, stress-free, neutral

environment. This was a great start for all parties to begin to learn more about each other and

begin to bridge the gap between students and police. This helped the whole community see how

all four schools and police departments actually had good intentions towards each other; they all

wanted to be part of positivity by meeting on the same grounds.

Not only is it possible for students to learn that police are here to protect them and be

positive role models, it is also important for police officers to know that teens understand the

positive intentions of their jobs and that we respect those precautionary aspects. There are a few

questions one should think to themselves regarding police, such as: Are officers participating in

local projects? Support a Police Athletic League or other sports project, besides being there for

security reasoning? And when was the last time they stopped to talk to a group of kids just to say

hi? By having police interacting with the community on their own free will, the community will

see they are pushing for a better relationship and they are making the first steps. Chris Cognac

expressed his feelings towards officers taking the step by stating, Non-enforcement community

engagement activities make a huge contribution to building and maintaining lasting relationships
and community trust. The fact that an officer goes out of his or her way to participate in

something that is important to a certain segment of the community shows that the officer really

cares about the members of that community, not just about enforcing laws. These

non-enforcement community engagements help because, just like at Blackstone Academy, the

officers are pushing to make a personal connection with the community and the kids; which will

make the community want to have a personal connection with the officers as well. These

personal connections are valuable because it will create a trust that will help any future

interactions that may occur.