LYNCHBURG, Va. – Throughout the year, Lynchburg police do several outreach programs, like the free B.I.K.E (Believe In Kids Excelling) for elementary students... to help build better community relationships, especially with at-risk youth.
“We’ve partnered with One Community One Voice to really identify at-risk youth in our city and build those relationships with those kids,” Dr. Owen Cardwell, co- vice chair of Bridges to Progress Initiative, said.
Now organizers with the city’s Bridges to Progress Initiative believe more can be done.
“We have a national problem, we know, with relationships with police departments with communities particularly with color. That does not seem to be the situation in Lynchburg, but we can always improve on what we’re doing,” Cardwell said.
“I don’t know if there are any issues. I just know we can always do better,” Sgt. Jeff Rater said.
Cardwell said they're using a Minnesota-based curriculum to teach Lynchburg leaders about the community. Family and networking skills at-risk youth may lack.
“The four-hour training is really around techniques and strategies for engaging youth around internal and external assets.”
Cardwell and Rater agree programs don’t really change people, relationships do.
“We try to throw money at poverty, but it’s not going to work without building relationships in our community and building that trust in our neighborhoods. Especially as a police department,” Rater said.
The Lynchburg Police Department will be the first to start the training on Jan. 8. Organizers said 30 people have signed up, which includes LPD’s command staff, Community Action Team and other members.
Cardwell adds they plan to train other departments and community members throughout the Hill City this year. Dates on the next training session have not been scheduled yet.