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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of North Carolina

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, August 26, 2016

U.S. Attorney's Office Partners With Hickory Police Department To Launch Youth-Oriented Outreach Initiative

The Program is Designed to Promote Positive Interactions between Police and Youth

CHARLOTTE, N.C. –United States Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose announced today that the U.S. Attorney’s Office partnered with the Hickory Police Department to present the Law Enforcement Guiding Adolescent Lives (LEGAL) program in Hickory, N.C.  LEGAL is a youth-oriented community outreach initiative designed to offer young people guidance on having positive interactions with members of the law enforcement community. 

The one-day program was held earlier today in Hickory, at LP Frans Stadium.  Hickory Police Chief Thurman Whisnant and his officers worked closely with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to implement the initiative and to develop a curriculum that was informative, meaningful and fun for its participants.  Volunteer officers with the Hickory Police Department and 20 youths selected from the Young People of Integrity group and the Hickory Youth Council participated in the program. 

This was the second event held as part of the LEGAL outreach initiative.  Over the summer, the U.S. Attorney’s Office partnered with the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office and the Asheville Police Department to launch the pilot program, with the goal of collaborating with local law enforcement in Western North Carolina to implement the initiative throughout the district. 

“This program is extremely valuable both to the young people and the volunteer law enforcement officers who participated today.  The goal of the initiative is to establish positive police/youth relationships through education and open dialogue, and to foster the principles of mutual respect by learning from each other,” said U.S. Attorney Rose.  “In doing so, we seek to foster a life changing experience for the participants and to develop a scenario whereby law enforcement officers and young people have more effective and ultimately more safe interactions within their communities.”

The four-hour program began with youth participants receiving legal and practical skills orientation.  During this session, participants received basic legal background information on searches related to traffic stops, public area encounters, and home encounters.  Participants also received practical instruction on their rights and on interacting with law enforcement in a sae and respectful manner. 

Following the legal orientation, youth participants had an opportunity to utilize their newly acquired skills by engaging with law enforcement officers in mock police interactions.  After each mock interaction, participants and law enforcement officers engaged in role-reversals, designed to foster a better understanding of each group’s standpoint and an opportunity to share each other’s perspective.  Following the mock encounters, participants engaged in free dialogue with officer volunteers during a roundtable luncheon. 

“The young men and women who took part in today’s program will benefit greatly from their participation.  My officers volunteered many hours and worked diligently to make sure this program was a success.  Those who participated were given very good practical information and each group had an opportunity to learn from each other.  I want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for partnering with the Hickory Police Department to bring this important initiative to Hickory’s youth,” said Chief Whisnant.

U.S. Attorney Rose thanked Chief Whisnant for his support of the LEGAL initiative. U.S. Attorney Rose also thanked the law enforcement officers and youth for participating in the program, and emphasized the importance of continuing to develop and support initiatives that promote positive youth development and enhance interactions between police and youth.

Updated August 26, 2016