By Joe Gorman
About 100 city school students this past weekend got a chance to tour Southern colleges and see police officers in a different light.
The students, who are in middle school and high school, took the tour sponsored by the city’s Community Initiative To Reduce Violence.
They were accompanied by two members of the police department’s Community Police Unit.
They visited Morehouse and Spelman colleges, Georgia State University and took in other attractions in the Atlanta area.
Guy Burney, CIRV coordinator, said the program has made the trips for several years, and in the past, participants have been to Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. He said it is a good way for city youths to experience the world outside of their neighborhood.
“We try to get a different exposure each year,” Burney said.
Burney said the trip is also a way the students can see what police officers are like when they are not on the job, to show that they are regular people just like them.
“We always try to build relationships,” Burney said.
Youngstown police Chief Robin Lees said he agrees that having officers go on the trip is a great way to build relationships.
“That encourages dialogue and contact with the officers,” Lees said.
Lees also said the trip is a good way to educate the students on life outside of Youngstown and a chance to get them interested in college or other experiences.
“It’s great the kids will get exposure outside of the city, and they can realize what other opportunities there, are,” he said.