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Teens view Milwaukee police in a positive light, thanks to the STOP program

Hundreds of teens from Milwaukee schools graduated from the STOP (Students Talking It Over with Police) Program on Thursday (May 21) at the Panther Arena. The awards ceremony kicked with music and recognition.

The Milwaukee Police Department started the program in 2010 and since then close to 1,700 students have gone through the program. It brings police officers into the schools to build relationships with teens.

Imani Ortiz is an 11th grader at Rufus High School and she said her initial view of police officers was negative.

\"Oh I really didn't like them,” Ortiz said. “You never got a good perception of police, no matter what part of the city you are from.\"

However, after the STOP Program her point of view completely changed.

\"Oh I love them, they are cool, you see a whole other side of them like they are human too so you can't be quick to judge them,\" Ortiz said.

Ortiz was recognized for her leadership role in the program. She received $1,000 and an IPad.

\"The program is very inspiring,” Ortiz said. “It helps young leaders be recognized.\"

Police officers work with students between 12 and 17 years old in 74 schools.

\"I was actually kind of nervous to go into the program because I was afraid of the police because of the things that have been going on,” said Amber Batty who graduated from the STOP program.

“But I learned that there actually good police out there,\" she said.

Capt. Peter Pierce said, “We've been fortunate to be able to understand the youth and some of their problems and help them resolve issues.”

“It's getting to know them on a personal level,” he said.

Chief Ed Flynn said this program is an example of the role models in the community.

\"We have a subset of young people that engage in criminal activity just as we have a subset of adults that do, but the overall majority of young folks are triumphing over adversity and they are going to go on to lead productive lives,” Flynn said. “We're glad to be a part of that.\"

The STOP Program has won several awards including: Winner of the 2014 University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Research Collaboration, winner of the 2014 IACP Excellence in Law Enforcement Resarch and Winner of the 2014 of the IACP Webber Seavey Award Quality in Law Enforcement.

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