DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – An event held this morning in Dallas was one of many gatherings meant to help ease tension between police and citizens – but this one was just for kids.
The second annual “Let’s Talk” event brought kids from 10 to 15 years old together to engage in dialogue with officers. Organizers for the event say kids in the age group are at a critical point in their life.
The United Way of Metropolitan Dallas co-sponsored the event and the organization’s Chief Strategy and Operating Officer, Susan Hoff, said the young people are, “Still making up their mind about ‘what’s the world like’ around them and developing their opinion about how they interact with law enforcement.”
The goal of the event was to create an open dialogue, promote trust and help shape children into young adults who have healthy relationships with police. Dallas Police Department Chief David Brown headed the forum. He said, “Talk is cheap. You have to change people’s mind by having a real conversation, a real relationship with people at an early age.”
Brown said being able to connect and have contact with kids, in an unofficial capacity, is the key. “We come in often times and make arrests. We want to create interactions when there’s no enforcement, when there’s no crisis… like this. So that they can have a point of reference different than what they might see in their neighborhood.”
Chief Brown said that even as the department works to create better relationships they battle againt a very big obstacle — fear.
Brown was joined by former Dallas Cowboys players Emmitt Smith and Daryl “Moose” Johnston who said they wanted to support the community and the department and give back after the tragic shooting of police officers last month.
Kids attending the event also had the opportunity to stop by different vendor booths and visit with other Dallas police groups — such as the youth choir. Brown said the variety of programs they have in place and are developing are meant to reach all kids, no matter their interests, so they can connect with members of law enforcement and begin to build trust.
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