Trending Topics

Oakland youth program run by police sergeant seeks to help at-risk youth, foster good LE relationships

“Our goal is to prompt critical thinking skills, promote academic excellence and reduce the high risk of incarceration and homicides among young African American males,” said Oakland Police Sgt. Robert Smith, who serves as Ok Program’s COO

By Joanna Putman
Police1

OAKLAND, Calif. — A program launched in Oakland aims to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the Black community, KTVU reported.

“Our goal is to prompt critical thinking skills, promote academic excellence and reduce the high risk of incarceration and homicides among young African American males,” said Oakland Police Sgt. Robert Smith, who serves as Ok Program’s chief operating officer.

The Ok Program combines educational support and mentorship, with officers working closely with youth to promote academic success and personal growth, according to the report. The program is intended to go beyond academics, incorporating life skills sessions to stimulate social awareness and community engagement.

“By introducing them to police officers that look like them was very important for them to know that they’re not always there to hurt you or incarcerate you,” board member Joseph Cotton Jr. said.

The program also involves volunteers and probation officers which adds a personal dimension, with many sharing their own stories of overcoming challenges.Young participants say the program has provided a sense of community and essential life skills, such as conflict resolution.

Supported by the Warriors Community Foundation, the program not only focuses on the youth but also offers assistance to their families, addressing basic needs to further support community well-being, according to the report.

“We’re here to change the way they think and feel about life... to really help them to be the best version of themselves,” board member Will Jackson said.

RECOMMENDED FOR YOU