Through collaboration with the City of Mobile Parks and Recreation, the Mobile Police Department Office of Strategic Initiatives will now have a presence at parks and recreation centers as another way to engage with youth in a positive and fun environment. Police officers will interact with the kids in the game rooms and on the basketball courts while at the same time teaching them about making good life choices without mixing into a world of crime.
Using the program, You Still Have a Choice, police officers will help kids avoid the dangers of involvement with crime, drugs, guns and other behaviors that could ruin their lives. Kids will be taught what happens if they do make the choice to commit a crime and the consequences that could follow.
The first parks to offer the program are the Thomas Sullivan Community Center, 351 N. Catherine Street, and Harmon Recreation Center, 1611 Belfast Street.
"We want our city youth to see police officers as mentors and role models," said Curtis Graves, commander of the Office of Strategic Initiatives. "Success of the program at the parks and recreation centers will be measured by the improved relationship between youth and law enforcement."
Since the start of the 2017-2018 school year, the MPD Office of Strategic Initiatives has facilitated the You Still Have a Choice program to over 2,000 middle school students. The program was created in 2014 to reduce recidivism for juvenile criminal offenders.
Other programs are being designed to make the parks and recreation centers more inviting and beneficial for youth, according to Katrina Frazier, recreation program supervisor for the City of Mobile Parks and Recreation Department. Beginning today, all 11 sites will provide study and enrichment time from 4 to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday.