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Cops and Kids: Cops & Kids: Working Together for Peace on the Streets

2017 Spring Dinner

View ABC7 News Coverage


On April 28, 2017, more than 400 students from Berendo Middle School, Hollenbeck Middle School, Los Angeles Academy Middle School and TEACH Academy joined 40 LAPD officers at the LA Police Academy/Elysian Park for the re-launch of the Cops & Kids program sponsored by the Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF) with generous support from the Morrison & Foerster Foundation.This program, created 25 years ago in response to LA’s civil unrest, is a collaborative effort between CRF and the LAPD. The program has proven effective in increasing student knowledge about law enforcement and due process rights and in improving police attitudes towards young people and young peoples’ attitudes toward police.In a series of simulation models and role play, students had an opportunity to experience law enforcement from the point of view of police, suspects, and witnesses. By giving a realistic picture of the challenges faced by officers, the simulation helps students better understand the daily demands of police work. By using actual law enforcement officers as resources, young people and police interact in a positive learning environment.

Student and officers participated in a pre-and-post-survey that focused on attitudinal changes. Results from prior surveys have demonstrated dramatic attitudinal changes in both students and officers. Survey results are available upon request.


Volunteers Needed

Facilitate a Fun and Educational Activity for Middle School Students

On April 28, 2017, Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF) and the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) will hold an event for 400 middle school students and 50 officers at the Los Angeles Police Academy in Elysian Park.

This event is built around a CRF activity called Police Patrol. This simulation activity puts students in the roles of citizens needing police assistance and as officers responding to their calls. Law enforcement officers act as resource people and coaches to the students playing the roles of police. This simple, yet powerful simulation provides a structured, safe environment for youth and police to begin to discuss issues including reasonable force, profiling, stereotypes, and the role of police in society.

We need volunteers to facilitate this critically important, yet fun activity on April 28, 2017 from 9:00am – 11:30am! Facilitators lead a simple, but highly structured activity with the assistance of teachers. You will have a chance to work directly with 6thor 7th graders from underserved schools in Los Angeles and with LAPD officers.

CRF and LAPD are holding two facilitator training sessions (you need to attend only one):

  • West Los Angeles: April 6, 2017 at Latham & Watkins, Century City from 3:00pm – 4:30pm.
  • Downtown: April 14, 2017 at Morrison & Foerster from 3:30pm – 5:00pm.

We will provide snacks and make sure this is a fun and interesting experience for you! We will actually do some of the role plays so that you will know exactly what to do as a facilitator. You need no special background knowledge, just the desire (and energy) to work with middle school students! (If you cannot make it to the April 28, 2017 event, we still need you. There will be several schools participating in Police Patrol who will need facilitators to come assist in classrooms.)

What is the time commitment?

You will need to attend a facilitator training (1.5 hours) prior to April 28, 2017. On April 28, 2017, you would need to arrive by 9:00 am and should be finished with your session by noon. You are invited to stay for lunch if you like.

What will I be doing as a facilitator on April 28, 2017 at the LAPD Academy?

You’ll work with a group of about 20 middle school students and one or two police officers to lead an activity:

  1. Divide the students into 4 smaller groups. Choose two students from each group who will be police officers.
  2. Have the junior officers meet with the adult officers who will “train” them on basic police procedures.
  3. Meanwhile, you will work with the 4 small groups to rehearse role plays (skits). In each skit there is a need to call the police. For example, in one skit, there are noisy neighbors who are about to get in a fight. In another skit, there are known gang members who are armed and dangerous in a car. As a facilitator, you’ll simply help the groups prepare to act out their skits.
  4. After about 15 minutes of allowing the officers to prepare and the skits to be rehearsed, you will bring everyone back together. You will act like you are the 911 operator and call on Group 1 to perform their skit. The junior officers will respond to the “police call” and the adult officers will accompany them to help them out along the way as they try to use proper and legal procedures to handle the call.
  5. The students and the officers begin to have a lot of fun together, which builds a positive relationship…and that’s part of the point! Students learn that police have rules they must follow and get a glimpse of the challenges of police work. Officers become the experts and mentors in the eyes of the students, and gain understanding about the hopes and fears of the youth they serve…that’s also the point!
  6. You will help the adult officers de-brief each of the skits as to how realistic each was, and encourage the students to ask questions, etc.
  7. After the skits, you’ll facilitate a guided discussion with students and officers about projects students/officers could do to improve public safety in their schools and communities.
  8. You’ll distribute a short survey to the students and the officers, then dismiss your “class” to go to lunch!

Will I work alone?

We hope to have enough volunteers to pair up facilitators (unless you want to fly solo!). You will likely have a teacher or CRF staff member with you to help, as well.

What if I cannot attend April 28, 2017?

CRF will be organizing several Cops & Kids activities at middle schools and we will need trained facilitators to lead Police Patrol in classrooms.

Background and Purpose

Background and Purpose of Program

In 1994, Constitutional Rights Foundation began holding Cops & Kids conferences in Los Angeles. The conference was developed in response to teachers’ concerns about youth and police relations following the Rodney King verdict and civil unrest. Middle school teachers shared their observations that many students were expressing negative views about the police, and with a police station only blocks away, altercations between their students and officers were steadily rising. The teachers asked if CRF could assist them in addressing these issues.

Research indicates that the most significant predictor of negative attitudes about the police is previous negative interaction. Not surprisingly, positive interactions with the police serve as the most common factor in the development of positive attitudes. Research in the areas of delinquency prevention and the development of pro-social values among youth offers guidance about what kinds of police-youth contacts are most effective. They include those that help young people develop significant relations with officers that are integrated into a child’s educational development; and those that provide students with a realistic and balanced presentation of the role officers play in society and in their communities. Drawing on these findings, CRF developed the Cops & Kids conference model and the Youth and the Police 10-lesson curriculum.

A typical conference provides students and officers with two workshop sessions. In Session One they participate in Police Patrol, in Session Two, the officers facilitate a guided discussion that provides students an opportunity to express their views about issues of police/community relations and public safety in their own neighborhoods. The session ends with a brainstorm activity asking students and officers to explore activities and service-learning projects for youth to do to improve public safety in their own schools and communities.

Conference Goals

  • Establish positive, open lines of communication between youth and law enforcement officers.
  • Educate students about the challenges of police work and the scope and limits of police authority.
  • Provide students and officers with a forum to discuss their differences and begin to address any negative perceptions and stereotypes.
  • Provide an opportunity for officers to gain a better understanding about the lives young people they serve and their perceptions about law enforcement, crime, and safety in their communities.
  • Allow students and officers the opportunity to work together to identify attitudinal, behavioral, and action goals they can work toward to improve police-community relations.

Over 10,000 middle grades students have participated in Cops & Kids events in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Rhode Island, Chicago, and Arizona. In Los Angeles, special sessions for parents have been added to the conference. In a separate breakout room parents participate in the Police Patrol simulation with officers, using the same methods as the students. Parents are then invited to join student sessions to observe the discussions between students and officers. This parent component has provided schools with a and the police department with an outreach to involve parents in their children’s education and to involve them as citizens in the community.

All participants surveyed before and after the conference to gauge attitudinal changes and knowledge gained. Past survey results indicate that the conference provides students, parents, and officers with a unique experience to begin to establish positive lines of communication and develop a deeper understanding of each other. Results also demonstrate students and parents gain a more sophisticated knowledge about the role of police in society, the scope and limits of police authority, and an appreciation of the challenges officers face.

This program is made possible by a generous grant from the Morrison & Foerster Foundation.
Special thanks to Los Angeles Police Department, Latham & Watkins LLP, and of course Morrison & Foerster LLP.