AG Mark Herring announces new community policing initiative

13News Now Niko Clemmons has the story

HAMPTON, Va. (WVEC) -- Improving interactions between young people and police.

Attorney General Mark Herring is launching a new online program that helps teens understand their rights while interacting with law enforcement. The program is intended to be taught specifically by law enforcement officers in Virginia schools.

Thousands of school resource officers, administrators and security are gearing up for the next school year.
Here in Virginia, they'll now have another tool to be able to strengthen their relationships with the students in their schools.

“I think we have a great opportunity to reach a lot of people,” Attorney General Mark Herring says.

Master Police Officer for the Hampton Police department Kenneth Wiggins is coming up on his 5th year as school resource officer at Phoebus High School. He already teaches the Virginia Rules program, a law based, educational program to help young people learn the law and ways to stay safe.

“This will just connect another piece of Virginia Rules to where we are going to try to get the kids to understand more of what we do and why we do it and help them understand,” Wiggins says.

This is an interactive program. It will involve instructors teaching students about their rights and responsibilities during different interactions with law enforcement as well as allowing students to do some role playing scenarios.

“Kids don't know what they don't know,” Attorney General Mark Herring says. “This is a way to help teach them and bring parents, law enforcement and kids together to talk about these issues and better understand each other.”

The launch of “Give It, Get It: Trust and Respect between Teens and Law enforcement” is the latest module in Attorney General Herring’s Virginia Rules program.

More than 1,500 law enforcement officers, school resource officers and community leaders are certified instructors. More than 45,000 Virginia students participated in the program in 2016.

“We don't want a young person to make a comment or take an action that can escalate the situation, we want the opposite,” Attorney General Mark Herring says. “We want to try to make sure the young people know what their rights and responsibilities are.”

The new program comes at a time where recent events across the country have once again highlighted police and community relations. Officer Wiggins hopes this new program, will prevent any officer-involved tragedies here in Virginia.

“It will allow us to explain to the students why we do some of the things we do then they can understand and it'll make encounters with police a little better,” Wiggins says.

The new program will be available online starting August 19th.


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