3/13/2017 - Oklahoma City, OK -- By Matt Dinger with The Oklahoman - The first wave of minor offenders and forward-thinking youths have graduated from Oklahoma City police's first Juvenile Intervention Program.
The six-week course serves as a diversion for low-level offenses adjudicated in the municipal courts, and as a leadership course for students who hope to get ahead or want a reference for their resumes.
Every Thursday, the teens met with police officers to watch instructional videos, role play and discuss situations in their lives and how they could be successfully mitigated for the better.
On March 2, the first 10 students graduated during a ceremony at the Metro Technology Centers Springlake campus in northeast Oklahoma City.
"We don't do enough to provide support for our youth who, early on, make those mistakes. And that's what this program is about, getting involved before it gets worse," Police Chief Bill Citty said during the ceremony.
"Getting in trouble is part of being a youth ... but that doesn't make you a lost cause," he said.
"Things are changing. Law enforcement is doing a lot more in trying to make an individual better. It's better for us in law enforcement because it helps us balance what we do. We still have to lock people up, but we also want to help people, and I think with a program like this, we're going to have that opportunity," Citty said.
Graduates, who were given framed certificates for completing the program, were Joanna Aragon, Donte Ballard, Tyree Ballard, Jordan Cheathem, Alexandra Colbert, Robert Crosby, Tatyana Dorsey, Brittney Harris, Kendrick Hicks, Kendrick Morton, Alex Rosillo and Cayveon Walton.
The program is funded as a portion of the Safe Oklahoma Grant, targeting the city's northeast side.