Police unit connects kids, cops

REACH started in the shadow of protests following the death of George Floyd

Police unit connects kids, cops

Sometimes, it can be a challenge getting kids out of their comfort zone, letting them experience so much more and connecting with teens.

Those intimate conversations can be especially difficult for police officers, especially in the current state of America.

In order to try to build bridges between the community and Charlotte youths, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department hosts a number of camps and opportunities for Charlotte youths.

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One of those kids who experienced the connectivity of the police and program is Omarion Demery, a junior at Mallard Creek High School.

“My counselor brought the REACH program to my attention. She said it was a boys group that goes places with police,” Demery said.

With a smile and a laugh, he continued, saying, “I was like, I really don’t want to do that.”

REACH (respect, engage, accountability, character and honesty) Academy is a six-week summer program that builds positive relationships between participants and police officers.

It also promotes personal and social responsibility through leadership opportunities, educational seminars and field trips, and career and vocational development classes.

After a review of the CMPD pamphlet, Demery’s mother convinced him to give the program a try.

“The first couple of weeks was kind of shaky,” he said.  “I’m not the kind of person to step out of my comfort zone too easily, but it was something I needed to try.”

REACH started this summer in the shadow of protests this spring following the death of George Floyd and during a period of social isolation due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Most of the police officers are pretty cool,” he said, “One of my mentors with CMPD is Pastor Theo, and he’s been a great example of a mentor to me.”

Without a doubt, Demery enjoyed the trips the group took, and the most memorable and exhilarating was his first time kayaking.

“I can’t swim, so when I looked at that big body of water, I was like ‘I’m not doing that,’” he said with a big grin.

His camp partner, Joe, convinced him to try it. Demery donned his life vest and hopped in the back of the kayak and Joe in the front.

“I pretty much trust him with my life, so I said, ‘All right bro, we’re gonna make this work.’ Ever since then, that brought me out of my comfort zone to just like try new things even if it’s scary or not.”

This engaging program puts officers and kids together in healthy, social activities and builds exceptional relationships and mutual respect and understanding.

If you have an inspiring story to share, email Kevin Campbell, public affairs manager at WSOC-TV/WAXN-TV/Telemundo Charlotte, at Kevin.Campbell@wsoctv.com.