New tool to help JSO connect with children; focus on community policing
JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – There has been a call for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office to focus on more community policing to tackle violent crime. Sheriff Pat Ivey said last week it was something the department had done – but hadn’t made much noise about it. He used the Police Athletic League as an example.
This is the latest community policing tool, the mobile game unit. It’s a way for the police to interact with teens and children in the neighborhoods. JSO Director Deloris O’Neill says the play truck is a way to create a more confident environment.
It was an idea O’Neill had when she was area commander, but it was delayed by COVID. On Monday, it was finally unveiled at the PACE Center for Girls. Eventually, he will travel to parks and other community areas so children and teens can interact with officers.
“Well, it also gives us the opportunity to interact with them so they can see us as humans and not just someone in a uniform,” O’Neill said. “We want to be with the children. We love being with them and we love having this partnership with them. It makes us human beings with them,” O’Neill said.
It is a tool that does not cost JSO. The trailer was already owned by JSO. The sponsors paid for the games and the paint job. One of the first to participate was Kyra who attends the PACE center for girls. We asked if kids would feel comfortable playing video games with the police.
“People have different experiences with them. There are people who trust them and others who don’t. I feel like where I live they would because it’s something different and we like video games, we’re kids or teenagers,” Kyra said. “It’s something for all of us to connect with, it’s something we have in common.”
And if the unveiling at the PACE Center is a good example, it looks like the kids and the cops were having fun.
They were quick to point out that it’s not something you can rent for parties, but can be requested for certain community events. It will be at some of the Jumbo Shrimp Games
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