Officers who participate in the program meet monthly with high schoolers to talk about experiences kids have had with police, discuss stereotypes and reverse-roleplay each other's roles
By Megan Guza
The Tribune-Review, Greensburg
PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Police received a grant from the state of more than $120,000 that will go toward the bureau's Youth Connections program.
The grant, worth $126,718, is from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. In addition to the Youth Connections program, the money will also go toward providing implicit bias training to faculty and staff at Pittsburgh schools. The program aims to build relationships between Pittsburgh students and police officers.
Sgt. Tiffany Costa, a community engagement officer, called the grant an honor.
"Youth Connections is a powerful way to establish bonds between youth and officers in a neutral environment that in conductive to hearing each other and building trust," she said in a statement.
Pittsburgh Police officers who participate in the program meet monthly with high school freshman to, among other things, talk about the experiences the kids have had with police, discuss stereotypes and reverse-roleplay each other's roles.
The grant will help pay for wages of patrol officers who attend the program while they're not on duty plus other aspects of the programming.
Mayor Bill Peduto called the program one of the bureau's most important outreach programs.
"(The program) is making a real difference in improving community relations and sparking interest in the Public Safety Academy at Westinghouse High School," he said.
Several agencies in Allegheny County also received grant money, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh, Gwen's Girls, and the county itself for community violence prevention and reduction.
In Westmoreland County, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Laurel Region received nearly $120,400 to go toward mentoring vulnerable youth in violence prevention.
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