June 30, 2017
As police departments and communities across the country strive to improve relationships and foster trust, Street Law offers a new tool for working with youth: Street Law for Police & Teens. Designed to build positive relationships between police and youth while empowering young people with legal knowledge and civic skills, Street Law for Police & Teens is a program for law enforcement officers to teach young people about law and policing.
Street Law’s mission is to advance justice through classroom and community education programs. Street Law’s accessible, interactive programs empower students and communities to become active, legally-astute contributors to society. All of Street Law’s programs, including Police & Teens, are practical, relevant, and participatory, combining legal content with innovative teaching strategies that engage young people in the learning process. Street Law participants benefit from real life lessons and insights, which they can use to effect positive change in their lives.
The four-unit, 20-lesson curriculum is easy to follow and full of interactive strategies that promote problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Lesson topics include community safety, being a witness, reporting crime, search and seizure, arrests, personal safety, enforcing laws, restorative justice, bullying, and more. The Street Law training includes interactive instruction, role-playing activities, and demonstrations to engage students and encourage interaction with officers during the program.
Street Law trains officers and agencies on the implementation of Street Law for Police & Teens programs. Law enforcement agencies can also obtain just the lesson materials from Street Law to use as part of their own community policing efforts.
Street Law for Police & Teens helps young people understand the role of the officers in their community and provides young people and officers an opportunity to build mutual trust by talking about rights, responsibilities, and how they can work together for safer communities. For example, a lesson on police searches in schools asks students to take a position on a case involving the application of the Fourth Amendment in a school setting.
“I have served as a school resource officer (SRO) since the inception of the SRO Program in the Baltimore County Public Schools in 1998. Baltimore County has one of the largest SRO programs in the country. Since 1998, SROs in our district have used the Street Law curriculum to teach thousands of students. Its user-friendly approach to law-related education allows SROs the ability to teach students the law, and the importance of obeying the law, while building positive relationships with students and community members.”
– Officer Don Bridges, Baltimore County Police Department & NASRO President
After more than two decades of working with school resource officers on programs to teach young people about law and policing, in 2016 Street Law revamped and updated 20 lesson plans for law enforcement officers to use in both school and community settings.
Group discussions and hands-on activities help participants explore the roles, responsibilities, and perspectives of young people and the police officers that serve them in their communities—for example, in a lesson on racial profiling, participants and law enforcement collaboratively discuss the impact of racial profiling on people and communities. The result is an open, two-way dialogue that builds awareness, respect, empathy, and understanding.
For more information, contact Street Law’s Program Director, Yolanda Johnson.
This article originally appeared in the February 2017 e-newsletter of the Community Policing Office, entitled Community Policing Dispatch.
(Reproduced with permission)
Street Law for Police & Teens