TNT hosts OPD at Castlemont forum
This year Teens on Target is leading an effort to open up the lines of communication between the Oakland Police Department and Oakland youth, especially young people of color. Officers have attended Teens on Target meetings for intimate dialogues, and just before the end of the school year, TNT hosted a big public forum on Police/community relations at Castlemont attended by over 200 students, staff and faculty. The forum featured a panel of OPD officers and TNT youth leaders for a wide-ranging 90-minute discussion that at times was tense but in the end served as a promising kickoff of an ongoing TNT project to increase police transparency and to lift the veil that impedes mutual understanding between the community and the police. OPD representatives on the panel included longtime OPD veterans, Captains LeRonne Armstrong and Ersie Joyner, Sgt. Gordon Dorham and Officer Robert Smith. The panel took questions from the audience about what their training procedures are for dealing with youth of color, what to do if you feel you have been mistreated by the police, and what it’s like to be an African American police officer in Oakland. Next steps in the TNT’s work to address the climate of relations between the police and civilians of color in Oakland will be to help the Mayor’s public safety director as she puts together an OPD Youth Leadership Council to review policy recommendations, provide training to officers on how to deal with young people, advise on hiring, and offer their own policy recommendations.