Houston’s TAPS Academy Program for At-Risk Teens Set to Start Second Class in Early September 2012

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The Teen and Police Service Academy Partners At-Risk Teens with Houston Police Officers in a 15-Week Mentoring Program Designed to Reduce Social Distance Between the Two

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“We are eager for the second TAPS Academy class to start. The first class proved that Houston youth are open and willing to change the negative perceptions they have towards police officers..."said Dr. Everette Penn

On Sept. 4, the second TAPS Academy class starts in Houston at Beechnut Academy. The Teen and Police Service Academy (TAPS Academy) is an innovative program geared toward strengthening the relationship between at-risk teens and law enforcement. The program is funded by a grant from the Community Oriented Police Services Office (COPS) and led by the Houston Police Department in partnership with the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Houston-Clear Lake.

The idea for this program originated from Houston Police Department Chief Charles McClelland, as a way to close the social distance between officers and teens and to make their interactions on the streets safer for the Officer and the teens in the Houston communities.

The first TAPS Academy class of nearly 40 Beechnut Academy students graduated in May. The 15-week class was evaluated by top researchers and the results provided great insight into the challenges between teens and law enforcement. At the beginning of the initial TAPS Academy class, more than half of the teens felt somewhat/very disconnected from the police. By week 14 of the 15-week program, this number was reduced to 19 percent. Also, respect for the police improved from 52 percent to 62 percent over the same period. The preliminary research findings indicated that TAPS Academy made a positive and significant impact on the feelings the teens had towards the police.

“We are eager for the second TAPS Academy class to start. The first class proved that Houston youth are open and willing to change the negative perceptions they have towards police officers. We are confident that the change in attitude will help lead our teens to make better decisions, such as reducing their involvement in criminal activity,” said Dr. Everette Penn, Co-Founder of TAPS Academy and Criminologist from University of Houston-Clear Lake. “We are making plans to expand this program to other cities.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Houston recently partnered with TAPS Academy to assist with developing and maintaining strong and healthy relationships between TAPS mentors and students.

About TAPS Academy
TAPS Academy is a 15-week program funded by the Department of Justice, Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office. TAPS Academy’s goal of reducing the social distance between at-risk youth and law enforcement is being accomplished through learning, interaction and discussion between at-risk youth and local law enforcement personnel. Through this program, TAPS students and law enforcement personnel gain valuable insight about each other and the issues they face on a daily basis.

Visit TAPS Academy.org or Facebook.com/TAPSAcademy to learn more about the program.

For more information, contact:
Brian Butler
Vistra Communications
813.961.4700
Brian(at)ConsultVistra(dot)com

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Kendra Cummings
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