Richmond VA > Police > Youth Engagement

Last Updated: 2010-01-20

The Boys in Blue program pairs children with Richmond police officers to spend time each week together. (Source: NBC12)

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond police officers are building unique bonds with young boys through a new mentor program called Boys in Blue.

Teachers at Swansboro Elementary School chose 16 boys in third through fifth grade for the program. The children are paired with RPD officers and spend time each week together.

"I'll talk about his job and how he's busting crimes and stuff,” said Santino Mosqueda, a fifth-grader in the program.

For some of the kids, it's a change from how they might often encounter police.

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Eric English, a former UR player, has been officiating high school basketball games for 15 years.

The 1988-89 Richmond basketball team started Ken Atkinson, now the coach of the Brooklyn Nets, Mike Winiecki, a college assistant for decades who is now the associate head coach of the Lakeland Magic of the NBA’s G League, and Benjy Taylor, also a long-time college coach currently on the staff at California State, Bakersfield.

Eric English, a senior starter on that Spiders NIT team, stayed in basketball another way, as an official. He has been calling high school games for 15 years.

English keeps the peace off the court, as well, as one of two deputy chiefs for the Richmond Police Department.

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The Richmond Police Department is taking a proactive approach to policing by getting at risk youth off the streets and on the field through the Richmond Police Athletic League or PAL.

The Richmond Police Department is taking a proactive approach to policing by getting at risk youth off the streets and on the field through the Richmond Police Athletic League or PAL.

“PAL is a program we kind of bridge the gap between the community and the Richmond Police Department,” said RPD Master Patrolman and Richmond PAL Director Perry Barber. “When you sign up to be a police officer it's because you love people and want to help people and that's the backbone of the Police Department and the backbone of the Richmond PAL.”

The nonprofit organization, established in 1982, reaches kids through sports. Enrollment is at its peak this year.

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Legacy Chess Academy serves youth in Richmond and is aiming to serve more schools and organizations in the surrounding region. (Photos by Brian McNeill, University Public Affairs)

In a Henderson Middle School classroom, dozens of Richmond children between the ages of 12 and 14 are paired off, each huddled over chess boards and playing intensely.

“Chess helps me think,” says Avery White, 12, a student at Falling Creek Middle School. “It’s a very patient game. It helps you think a few steps forward because if you make a wrong move, your opponent can get an advantage on you.”

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The Very Social Work of Policing - Richmond Police Department programs invest in the future of local youth (Photo by Jay Paul)

Kyle Jacobs had a bias against anyone connected with law enforcement.

His adversarial relationship with police began when he was about 13. His old neighborhood in North Philadelphia was notorious for crime and violence, and he says that whenever police responded to calls for help, they tended to be overly aggressive toward perpetrators and bystanders.

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Using art to transform juvenile justice system

To transform the juvenile justice system, Mark Strandquist, who graduated in 2013 with a major in photography and film from the VCU School of the Arts and a minor in sociology, created Performing Statistics, a project that connects incarcerated children and teens with artists, designers, educators and Virginia’s leading policy advocates to help tell their story and give it a human face.

The Richmond Police Department was pleased to participate.

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Congrats to the 2016 NFL FLAG SUPER PAL BOWL IV CHAMPIONS: Lucille Brown Redskins, who defeated Thompson Elkhardt Panthers 18-16 last Saturday.

The game was very exciting and came down to a failed two point conversion.

Special thanks to Officers Virgil Burton, Wayne Cole, Keir Hinton, Ron May, Joy Norwood, Junie Harrison , Willie Ruffin, Trishonda Chasteen ,VCU Officer Cecil Powell and Mr. Donald Cook.

Your effort and leadership has touched many.

This year every Richmond Middle School participated and the competition was tremendous.

Step Into My Shoes: What Police Learn from Incarcerated Youth

Step Into My Shoes: What Police Learn from Incarcerated Youth - Part 1

A group of recruits gathers in the center of the room, where there’s a replica of a cell. It’s six feet wide, eight feet long and eight feet tall. They look at the floor’s planks, where youth wood-burned messages to people on the outside. “Step into my shoes,” they wrote, “feel my pain and struggle.” “Imagine you can see barbed wire from your window, imagine you can hear kids crying, screaming.” “Know that I wish I was home, know that I’m scared.”

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Community Unites to Address School to Prison Pipeline

Step Into My Shoes: What Police Learn from Incarcerated Youth - Part 2

Richmond’s police chief shares a vision with local artists and legal advocates. Together, they’re working to reverse high rates of student arrests and provide more opportunities for young people.

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The Richmond PAL lacrosse league started in 2004 with about 30 kids participating. To date there are about 200 boys and girls registered in the winter league for 2016. It is a major fundraiser for PAL usually generating around $15,000 to help with summer camp expenses. Lacrosse is the fastest growing sport in the United States and our numbers have grown tremendously over the years.
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Richmond Young Adult Police Commission president, Trei Young (left), and vice-president, De'Shawn Edwards. Both are seniors at Armstrong High to read more
(Photo courtesy Trei Young)

The first meeting of this school year’s Richmond Young Adult Police Commission takes place on the Virginia Union University campus, in a police academy classroom dominated by a large projector screen and a constellation of Richmond Police Department brass.
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Mosby Court Harvest Festival - October 31, to view

Mosby Court Harvest Festival
October 31, 2015

PAL Fall Lacrosse Camp, October 5 - November 23, to view

PAL Fall Lacrosse Camp
October 5 - November 23, 2015

Various PAL 2015 to view

PAL 2015 Pictures

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