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Big Brothers Big Sisters unveil new partnership with area law enforcement officers.
Posted at 3:12 PM, Jan 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-20 16:12:55-05
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Racine and Kenosha Counties on Friday unveiled a new partnership with area law enforcement officers.
It's called "Bigs in Blue."
According to Executive Director Ashleigh Henrichs, BBBS of Racine and Kenosha Counties will match 50 local law enforcement officers with kids currently on the waiting list and wanting mentors, or "bigs."
"There are currently 75 kids on the BBBS waiting list," Henrichs said. "Last year, the group matched almost 200 children, ages six to 18, with mentors. Almost 80 percent of those kids came from low income households. The impact of this program is going to be felt community wide."
Racine Mayor John Dickert said "Bigs in Blue" will help build trust between citizens and police officers at a young age.
"When a police officer spends some time with a child, I think it takes that fear factor away," Dickert said. "When a civilian picks up the phone and calls 911, you're calling our police and fire departments. There shouldn't be any angst to that. There should be a relationship."
Racine Police Chief Arthel Howell said such relationships are a way to combat crime, and will make for a safer community for everyone.
He said mentorship programs help keep kids out of trouble. The Chief also said they can build friendships that make civilians more willing to work with police in cracking down on crime.
"We have to interact with our community on different levels, whether it's at a simple car accident or at something more tragic in nature," Howell said. "When we build trust, we're able to better open the lines of communication."
Howell said the department already runs a separate mentorship program called Police Pals, which involves more than 30 officer. So he said he expects many officers will be eager to participate in the partnership with BBBS.
"We just think it's important for our community to come together," Howell said. "The earlier the better."
Henrichs said the goal is to have kids and mentors matched up this fall, in time for the new school year.
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