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'Cops and Scholars' program attempts to bridge the gap between kids and police in West Palm Beach

Posted at 7:05 PM, May 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-03 20:22:16-04

On the North End of West Palm Beach, the sight of police can often mean trouble.

“A lot of the time, police only show up when things are going bad,” says Sergeant William Nealy with the West Palm Beach Police Department.

This day was different, however, as the new 'Cops and Scholars’ program kicked off.

Sergeant Nealy, who started the program, says he saw the need in the community.

“We're placing all our resource on the kids that were getting into trouble, but we're not doing anything for the kids NOT getting into trouble.

So this evening was all about Darshayla, Trenasia, and Ruben.

The three kids got a free meal at Brother Jimmy's courtesy of CityPlace, and a full meet and greet with the mayor and police chief.

The kids also received gift cards to CityPlace as well. 

The interactions made a huge impact.

“I got to talk about my day, I got to talk about what I did, what I shouldn't do, I got to talk about everything!” Ruben says.

WATCH the entire interview with Ruben

The experience provided perspective that could one day be the difference.

“A lot of kids…think that police officers are bad, and they should actually see the true side,” Trenasia says.

Sergeant Nealy says the program helps to bridge the gap.

“It's showing these young men and women that we're police officers, but we're people too. We can interact, and it doesn't have to be in a negative light.”