Two officer-involved shootings in less than 24 hours, both caught on camera in separate states, are prompting local leaders to teach teenagers how to interact with police.
The discussion titled “10 Rules to Deal with Police” was hosted by the Dane County Boys and Girls Club. It comes at the request of local residents who say they are worried about their teens after seeing multiple fatal officer-involved shootings nationwide.
“The rules that I’m sharing with you don’t make you weak. They make you smart. They make you strong and they make you a leader,” said Harold Rayford, pastor at Faith Place Church.
Rayford told teens that it’s unfortunate to call the rules survival, but said that is the reality.
“If the officer tells you to put your hands behind your back, put your hands behind your back. If the officer tells you to get on the ground, get on the ground. Comply and then complain,” he said.
Michael Johnson, CEO of the Dane County Boys & Girls Club said leaders hope that by giving teens tools on how to interact with police, it will help prevent teens from negative encounters with law enforcement officers.
“I know there is a lot of anxiety. I feel it, I see it and I hear it. Young people and their parents are concerned when you see African American men being murdered on the streets,” Johnson said.
Leaders listed 10 tips for survival, range from keeping your hands in sight to not running away from an officer, despite being scared. Even with the tips, teens say the reason behind police use of force is hard to understand.
“Why would they do that? That’s the thing I can’t understand,” said teenager Emmanuel Correa.
“If everyone got in trouble and if we are seeing a guy with a gun, everyone is going to be dead,” said teenager Monteara Williams.
In Madison, the 2015 fatal shooting of Tony Robinson and recent video captured just last month of Genele Laird being arrested by police officers has raised concerns regarding interactions with law enforcement officers.
“I think we have to hear people’s concerns, and if we don’t think it jeopardizes public safety. There’s a lot of concerns out there and I think we need to begin to talk about it and go beyond the planning. How do we begin to put systematic policies and investments in place to ensure that the incidents that we saw in Minnesota, that we saw in Louisiana, don’t happen again?” Johnson said.
Law enforcement leaders and elected officials, including District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, were also invited to answer questions from residents.
Earlier this year, a special police task force issued recommendations to reduce use of force in Dane County. Community leaders say they want those recommendations to be implemented to help de-escalate encounters before someone else loses their life.