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  • Melinda Gronen, MA, LCSW

Upstanding Police Students program: Building Bridges

Bridge - "a structure spanning and providing passage over a gap or barrier."

On March 2, 2015 Caped Crusader Consulting implemented our eight week Upstanding Police Students program at Neal Math and Science Academy in North Chicago, IL. This was an innovative collaboration between the North Chicago Police Department, North Chicago Community Partners, and the eleven dynamic and energectic middle school students who particpated.

North Chicago Police Detectives Rollins and Smith, and social worker, Melinda Gronen, used honest discussions, role plays, field trips, and a final dinner that included family and friends to keep the kids engaged and connected. The program ended with the kids receiving certificates of completion by North Chicago Mayor, Leon Rockingham, in front of family, friends, and community members at a city council meeting.

While the goal of the program was to build bridges to proactively engage youth and police at a time when there are increased tensions in the community, we had a lot of fun, learned just as much (if not more) from the kids, and were able to expose students to a potential career path in the process! All of the participants felt empowered to be "Upstanders" in their community and learned how to navigate the difficult choices they will have to make in their lives.

Here is just some of the feedback we received about this innovative program:

"Thank you to the upstanders leaders. I appreciate you all for showing me the basics of being a police. I am really thankful that you all came to our program!" (Upstanding Police Students participant)

"Thank you to the UPS program! You guys are very kind. Thank you for everything. I am super thankful that I got to be a part of this UPS program." (Upstanding Police Students participant)

"...Too often police officers are seen in a negative light; by bridging the gap and finding ways to connect police officers and students with positive interactions early, we can alleviate a lot of the negativity seen today...You have made this program fun and one that students can easily relate have done an excellent job making the students feel comfortable when talking about topics such as abuse, sterotypes, dangers of social media, and much more!" (North Chicago Community Partners staff member)

"Thank you for coming to the program and spending time with us and showing us what you do!" (Upstanding Police Students participant)

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