GRANADA HILLS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Until a few months ago, 14-year-old Anthony Campos had never ridden a dirt bike. But now, thanks to an LAPD mentoring program, he's cruising with confidence.
"They taught me step-by-step how to maneuver the bike, what the clutch does and how to switch gears," Campos said.
Through the OHV4ME program, LAPD motor officers from the Valley Traffic Division mentor kids and teens from at-risk communities. A big part of the program is bonding by riding dirt bikes at an LAPD facility in Granada Hills.
"We create sort of a secondary family environment and most importantly we work with skills building," said Los Angeles Police Motor Officer Steve Griffith.
The officers say riding dirt bikes teaches the kids valuable life lessons not only on the track but at home as well.
"So our program has a section of it called PSP, which is our personal success plan. And we sit with them and we create a program guideline for them," Griffith said.
"Some of the goals were to be better with my family and be better organized with my belongings," said participant Giovanny Martinez.
The officers say it's not the dirt bikes that make this program special, it's having the time to connect with the kids.
"This program is so important to me, it's worth devoting my time to," said retired Los Angeles Police Officer Doug Varner. One of our kids showed up with sweatpants on. So we said, 'OK, maybe next week you should wear blue jeans or Levis.'" He said, 'I'm sorry sir this is all I have.' So, at the end of the day, he had motorcycle pants and Levis. But that's the type of kids we're trying to help."
"We're out there riding with them having a good time. And literally trying to foster their belief in coming out here and riding and showing what they can do," said Los Angeles Police Motor Officer Bryan Mivelaz.
"I would like to come back next year if I'm able to do it," said participant Zaire Brookins.
For more information on the program contact LAPD Valley Traffic Division at (818) 644-8000.
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