The Tuscaloosa Police Department unveiled a new approach to reaching out to students.
They’re bringing Police Officers into the classroom.
TAPS stands for “Teens And Police Service” Academy.
Its a program designed for at risk students.
The STARS program at Oak Hill will be the pilot school for the TAPS Academy in the Tuscaloosa City School System.
“We want to get it right first, we want to get it right. We want to make sure we have it right before we start implementing the program in other places” says Dr. Janet Sherrod, Executive Director of Learning Supports with the Tuscaloosa City School System.
“The reason why we chose that school is because its the Alternative school and we think that we will have the biggest impact” says Tuscaloosa Police Lieutenant Teena Richardson.
The goal of the Academy is to reduce the social distance between the students and Law Enforcement.
“The way the society is right now, they kind of frown upon Law Enforcement and the Military and we’re trying to build that bridge back” says Richardson.
The program couldn’t have come at a better time due to the recent spike of violent crime in Tuscaloosa.
“A lot of those kids that was involved in a lot of those Robberies and Shootings was in the late teens and early 20″s”
“What keeps me up at night is the one or two students that we did not have success with, who have gone on to commit crimes in our community and I just thought that TAPS was the thing that we could implement to begin to having an impact in that area” says Ty Blocker, Principal at Oak Hill School.
The Academy will cover topics like violence, physical and sexual abuse, bullying and more.
Tuscaloosa Police and Tuscaloosa City School Officials traveled to Houston, Texas to see the program in action.
The Program will start in the Tuscaloosa City School System in January at Oak Hill School.
once it starts, the officers and mentors will spend one to two hours a week with students.