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Police build relationship with teenagers at annual summit in Delray Beach

Chief: community-police relationship is critical
Posted at 5:54 PM, Jul 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-08 18:06:37-04

An officer holds a bulletproof shied, and the lights are switching between blue and red. But the SWAT team isn't responding to an emergency you'd expect.

There's no bomb threat, or high-profile arrest. Police in Delray are building a relationship.

“What we're trying to answer is how can we, as communities, interact better with our citizens?” said police Chief Jeffrey Goldman.

The SWAT demonstration was part of an annual teen summit put on by the Achievement Centers for Children and Families which focused on inspiring students to chase their dreams and avoid destructive decisions.

Goldman said his department regularly participates in events like this and others throughout the city.

Friday's event had been planned for months. But the message from police is that much more important after a week where police and public interactions turned deadly several times.

“It hurts me to see things like that happen,” said 14-year-old Christmanie Senat.

She said some people in her neighborhood jump to the conclusion all police officers are bad. The aspiring lawyer said getting to know police as people helps to eliminate those stereotypes.

“I would hope people would get along together more because that will help us as a nation grow and be stronger,” Senat explained.

Police and students said the topics they discuss in the classroom today will make a big difference when the two sides interact on the streets.  

“They need to be our messengers in the community that the police department is here to protect them and they should feel comfortable around us,” Chief Goldman pointed out.

12-year-old Schneider Saintil can be a messenger. He said it's up to him and his friends to change the mindset in the African American community that police won't listen to their concerns.

“The new generation will have a better start than what we had,” Saintil said.

All 280 students at the event stood in a moment of silence for the police officers and citizens killed this week. They realized standing together is the way to prevent future deaths. 

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