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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 16, 2016

Police and Prosecutors Join Pensacola Students for Youth Dialogue Event

BLAST (Building Lasting Relationships Between Police and Community) Program Brings Together Law Enforcement, Students, and the Community

PENSACOLA, FLORIDA – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida developed and presented the district’s first BLAST youth dialogue event on Tuesday in coordination with the Pensacola Police Department.  The program offered local students an opportunity to meet law enforcement officers in their community and ask the officers questions, share their perceptions of law enforcement, and interact with the officers in a familiar setting.  Officers also provided students with their perspective on responding to dangerous or uncertain circumstances and the importance of remaining calm and following the officers’ directions in these situations.

The event was held at Camelot Academy of Escambia County, a transitional school for 11 to 18-year-olds, who have been removed from a traditional school.  Approximately 59 students from the school attended the event.

Participating agencies included:

  • United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Florida

  • Pensacola Police Department

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation

  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

  • United States Probation Office

  • Florida Department of Law Enforcement

The schedule included the following breakout sessions, during which students had a chance to participate in role play with law enforcement officers:

  • Crime and Justice Overview: Students learned about each phase of a federal criminal case, including investigation, prosecution, and sentencing.

  • Domestic Violence: Students participated in a scenario in which police respond to an injured victim.  Discussion topics included de-escalation in a stressful environment, rights of witnesses and suspects, and the benefits of providing information to the police.

  • Traffic Stop Simulation: Students took turns playing the roles of civilians and officers in a traffic stop scenario in which some participants were compliant and some were argumentative.  Discussion topics included vehicle searches based on probable cause and the dangers faced by officers during a traffic stop.

  • Use of Force: Facilitators and students discussed when law enforcement officers may use force and an officer’s reaction time when confronted with a life-threatening situation.

After lunch, students heard two formerly incarcerated individuals speak about the consequences of criminal activity and the difficulties of living with a felony record.  The day ended with a basketball game between officers and youth.  The United States Attorney’s Office plans to expand the BLAST program across the district, which runs from Escambia to Alachua Counties.

The United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General.  To access available public court documents online, please visit the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida website.  For more information about the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Florida, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/fln/index.html.

For more information, contact:
Amy Alexander, Public Information Officer
(850) 216-3854, amy.alexander@usdoj.gov

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Topic(s): 
Community Outreach
Updated October 26, 2016