Second Annual Youth and Police Conference Successfully Opens Dialogue Between Youth and Local Law Enforcement

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TAPS Academy is a program primarily designed for at-risk youth where students partner with mentor officers to discuss relevant, teen-related issues

Teen And Police Service Academy Program Earns  Texas High School Accreditation

TAPS Academy

Momentum and enthusiasm for the program continues to rise as high schools and juvenile facilities across the nation show an increased interest in the program which plans to expand to Washington, D.C. and Dallas in the fall.

More than 200 local high school students and 30 law enforcement officers met on April 17 to discuss relevant teen-related issues during the Teen And Police Service (TAPS) Academy’s Second Annual Youth and Police Conference. The innovative event, held at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, initiated open discussions on topics ranging from domestic violence and human trafficking to sexual exploitation and bullying.

“This conference allowed the teens to gain a better perspective of law enforcement by having positive interaction with them,” said Dr. Everette B. Penn, TAPS’ co-founder and Professor of Criminology at University of Houston-Clear Lake. “Teens had a safe environment that encouraged transparency with the officers and helped break the barriers that usually prevent open dialogue from occurring.”

Hosted by the University of Houston-Clear Lake and the Houston Police Department (HPD), the conference put today’s youth and local police on an even plane in order to facilitate conversations about the issues seen in recent headlines. Additionally, the conference introduced TAPS Clubs to the students. TAPS Club members are mentored monthly on themes that encourage them to develop positive life skills. In this peer-to-peer organization, students develop leadership skills which they pass on by educating fellow classmates. These student-led organizations allow more youth, officers and community members to build community policing in neighborhoods. More information can be found at http://www.tapsacademy.org/Programs/TAPS_Clubs.

TAPS Academy is currently being implemented nationally and internationally in Houston, El Paso, Columbus, Ohio, the nation of St. Kitts and several other cities. Momentum and enthusiasm for the program continues to rise as high schools and juvenile facilities across the nation show an increased interest in the program which plans to expand to Washington, D.C. and Dallas in the fall.

Since its launch in 2011, the TAPS Academy curriculum has been applied to a variety of programs designed to reduce the social distance between youth and law enforcement. In addition to the Academy, annual conference and student-led TAPS Clubs, the TAPS model has expanded its programming to reach a larger audience. The one-day TAPS Summit is an opportunity for students to tour HPD’s headquarters and interact with department personnel and this summer, TAPS Camps aims to shape at-risk teens into at-promise youth by providing skills development and team building activities to more than 200 adjudicated youth in three Harris County juvenile facilities throughout Houston.

More information about TAPS Academy can be found at TAPSAcademy.org or Facebook.com/TAPSAcademy
About TAPS Academy TAPS Academy is an 11-week curriculum-based 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.

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Kendra Cummings

Donnie Gallagher