SAN ANTONIO — San Antonio leaders want to build good relationships and educate our kids, with the goal of hopefully keeping them out of the criminal justice system.
Jayden Vargas is a graduating senior at Marshall Law and Medical Services high school.
“The reason I got into this is because my dad is a police officer, he’s a detective,” said Jayden.
Growing up in San Antonio, a lot of his family members are police officers. But this was Jayden's first time getting a taste of the action.
“I like being put in those shoes and seeing what it’s like for the officer,” Jayden said.
The game "Juvenile Justice Jeopardy" is an effort to improve the understanding between kids and cops.
“We’re going to talk about the system,” Strategies for Youth trainer Kristen Wheeler said. “We’re going to talk about police interactions.”
The San Antonio Area African American Community Fund partnered with San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) to bring the game to San Antonio.
“Juvenile Justice Jeopardy is basically education disguised as a game,” Wheeler said.
The game tests students’ knowledge of the law, and allows them to get input from officers.
“You’re not allowed to leave in a particular situation,” said San Antonio Police Officer Joel Pope. “We may need to touch you.”
This is all in the hopes of limiting kids' negative interactions with law enforcement in the future.
“We’re really going to be able to educate kids without preaching at them,” said Officer Pope. “Kids don’t want to be preached at. They want to learn in an environment that’s comfortable for them.”
Officers know kids absorb misinformation on social media. SAPD's community engagement unit plans to close that gap with the help of community partners by taking this interactive training to students at boys and girls clubs and schools.
“We’ll be taking this product all over the city of San Antonio,” said Officer Pope. “To the Southside, Eastside, the Northside, the Westside.”
Officers receive little to no training on teen interactions, according to Strategies for Youth. Officer Pope says Jeopardy is a game changer for SAPD. By encouraging teens like Jayden to think before they react around law enforcement.
“Officers are also humans, so we should treat them with respect,” said Jayden.