Working to build lasting relationship with young people; MPD wins major award for STOP program

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The Milwaukee Police Department has won a major award for a community outreach program that involves students. Through its STOP program (Students Talking It Over With Police), the Milwaukee Police Department has taken to classrooms in an effort to create relationships with young people that continue as they grow older.

"That next generation of leaders in this city are in school right now -- so let's get to them. Let's explain what we do. Let's explain how we fit into the larger scheme of government. Let's talk about the relationships between informed citizens and their government and their police departments," Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said.

STOP is a sort of police literacy program.

"They're active discussions. We share crime data with them. We explain police tactics and strategies. We explain how we should be expected to behave so they know what bad police behavior is. But of the same token, we show them how they should be expected to behave as a cooperative citizen -- trying to help make their neighborhood safe," Chief Flynn said.

The STOP program is getting attention from outside Milwaukee. It recently garnered the Milwaukee Police Department a high-profile award from the International Association of Chiefs of Police for quality in law enforcement.

The Milwaukee Common Council took a moment to acknowledge the accomplishment at its meeting Tuesday, November 25th.

Chief Flynn says he hopes the STOP program's legacy will be that today's students grow into citizens with a clear understanding of the police department's role in the community.

"I hope to see in five, 10, 15 years here a lot more police officers coming from the ranks of our public schools and charter schools and private schools. I would like to see a pipeline to our Police Aide Program and I'd like to see young men and women that go on into politics and the professions have some understanding of the police department's role in the community apart from what they see on the news or see on television," Chief Flynn said.

STOP focuses on kids between the ages of 12 and 17. More than 1,000 students from 60 schools have graduated from the program.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the STOP program.