The Seattle Police Department recently launched a mentorship, pairing middle school students with officers. The mentorship is part of the expanding Seattle Police Activities League (SEAPAL) programming designed to be a proactive, prevention-oriented strategy building relationships between youth, police and community. SEAPAL focuses on providing youth the opportunity to be a part of a variety of activities with Seattle Police officers serving as coaches, mentors and role models.
This program takes place at Denny International, Washington, South Shore and Aki Kurose middle schools with 49 students and seven officers. The 12-month mentorship will provide exciting, interactive workshops on life skills, leadership, team building, education, and career development. The curriculum is supported through positive interaction, problem-based learning, and positive behavior support creating sustainable relationships. The mentorship is made possible through funding by the National Police Activities League and other grant sources totaling $40,000.
“There is nothing more important than our youth. This mentorship is a terrific example of what we can achieve when we dedicate ourselves to working with our communities, and the impact of prevention and intervention initiatives. By continuing to connect with Seattle’s youth, the Department is striving to make a real difference in the lives of students and their families while building bridges of long-term trust and confidence,” said Chief of Police, Carmen Best.
“We are learning just as much from these kids, we recognize that we cannot arrest our way out of the problem, we need to take a different approach to build relationships with our youth beyond legal encounters,” said Officer Matthew Roberson of the Community Outreach Unit and mentor at Aki Kurose Middle School.
Research has shown mentoring programs, have reduced first-time drug use by almost half, cut first-time alcohol use by a third, slash school absenteeism by half, all while improving family/peer relationships, and increasing student confidence in school.