LAPD officers, students learn from each other in 1992 LA riots-inspired program

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Middle school students and LAPD officers were given the opportunity to step into each other's shoes in a program that has its roots in the 1992 Los Angeles riots. (KABC)

A unique community program born out of the dark times of the 1992 Los Angeles riots lives on today, bringing officers and children together to give them a chance to step into each other's shoes.

Of the hundreds of middle school students that participated in the Cops & Kids program, some held fears of law enforcement while others shared memories of officers responding to frightening situations.

"We had a school lockdown. An officer came and checked if everyone was OK and he wanted to know how people were feeling," Seydi Osorio, 11, said.

In exchange for the students' rare chance to roleplay as police, LAPD officers received the opportunity to learn from the youth.

"There are officers in that room that have delivered babies on duty, that have pulled people out of burning cars, that have been in horrific shootings and maybe worst of all, have buried a partner," LAPD Cmdr. Jeffery Bert said. "But I need the officers to understand that when they look out at these kids, they are kids that have buried an older brother, that have lost a family, that have been yelled at (and) pulled out of a car."

The program, started by the the Constitutional Rights Foundation, was held at the LAPD academy in Elysian Park. It began after the Rodney King case and ensuing riots in an effort to improve police-community relations.

"Keep in mind that these issues will never go away," CRF president Marshall Croddy said. "The important thing is how we address them and by being as proactive as possible."

The hope in the roleplaying of typical 911 response calls is for students to learn their rights and understand the limits of police authority.
Related Topics:
society1992 LA riotslapdlos angeles police departmentcommunitystudentsElysian ParkLos Angeles CountyLos Angeles
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