13th Annual Summer of Opportunity

SOO #1.jpgYesterday 36 students from the Boston Police-ManuLife Summer of Opportunity (SOO) had a chance to visit with Police Commissioner Al Goslin and Superintendent Paul Joyce and tour Boston Police Headquarters. This is the final week of the SOO's summer session, which started in early July. Students have spent the summer in work shops ranging from time management, communication, dressing for success, to name but a few. As this session concludes, students are currently interviewing for jobs for fall internships (the second phase of this program). In Tuesday's session, youth learned about what it meant to be a law enforcement executive, asked questions about police procedures, innovative programs and learned about Boston's community policing philosophy. Students had a chance to meet the Police Commissioner and see personnel in action at the Operations Division and Crime Lab. Last month marked the 13th Annual Summer of Opportunity program. Developed in 1994 by the Boston Police Department’s Youth Violence Strike Force, in partnership with John Hancock/ManuLife, to serve 40 of the city’s highest-risk youth and bridge the gap between the neighborhood and the world of work. Boston’s youth are recruited citywide and referred to the program by community organizations, criminal justice professionals and clergy, to learn job readiness and leadership skills in the private sector and earn a weekly stipend, over an six week period from June to August. Successful summer participants are then offered a chance in the Fall to participate in a 46 week internship putting what they learned over the summer into action in the workplace. SOO #2.jpg Quick Facts: As of June 2006: · 480 youth have enrolled in the program · 410 of these youth have finished Phase 1, and · 351 have completed phase 2 Following the meeting, we asked several of the participants for feedback on their experience. This is what they had to say: Ashley Coakley, 17 from Dorchester: I basically learned that all police aren’t just about arresting but a lot of them want to help us and make our neighborhoods safe again. I also understand that stopping the increasing violence isn’t just a police job but the community’s job. Teens today tend to group all the cops together and don’t think too highly of them (not me though) and not all cops are the same and the meeting yesterday should go a long way towards convincing the teens in the Summer of Opportunity program that the police are trying to help. Michael Lockley, 16 from Dorchester: What I learned about community safety is that the police can’t do it all by themselves. The community needs to be involved too. Tatiana Rodriguez, 16, Dorchester: I learned things about the work that police do that I never knew about such as how many programs they have that give back to the community. I also learned that police don't only arrest people but they do things to prevent crime from happening for instance the Summer of Opportunity and the Mentor Program. After this presentation, Superintendent Joyce really convinced me that police are not what I thought them to be. I really felt the effort that Supt. Joyce, Blake Norton and Commissioner Goslin make to prevent the violence in my community and maybe one day I could give back to the community just like them. I also feel that the police understand how the violence in Boston has increased and they realized that arresting everyone is not going to help everyone. And the police seem like they are trying to look and prevent the roots of violence. I am definitely more informed about policing in Boston.