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Tallahassee's youth working to bridge gap between police and community

New Youth Citizens Advisory Council holds meeting
Posted at 9:08 AM, Sep 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-21 09:08:06-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.(WTXL) — The Tallahassee Police Department says it wants to be better connected with people in the community.

Saturday was a step in that direction after a meeting with the new Youth Citizens Advisory Council.

It's not your normal open call, Saturday Tallahassee's youngest came together to show why they're the best fit to bridge the gap between the police and the community.

"The children is always our future. i know that's cliche but they are. we absolutely need this with all of the violence going on right now," said Tonja Smith, TPD Deputy Police Chief.

As the Tallahassee police department sees an increase in gang violence with young people.

TPD is now working on building trust at an early age.

"I need middle school you got to start early. we know even with little kids, they're experiencing a lot of stuff thyre seeing stuff. if we can get those middle schools involved as well," said Smith.

93 middle and high school students applied to join the TPD Youth Citizens Advisory Council.

"There's misunderstanding on both sides," said Jizelle Reiley.

13 year old Jizelle Reiley says this gives young people a much needed seat at the table.

"The ones who aren't really heard, they just sit there and watch. they have opinions but they don't speak up about it. there's a lot of people like that but they're not as heard as they should be and they have amazing opinions," said Reiley.

Bringing in lessons the police department is ready to hear.

"A lot of them want change and they know what the children need. of course I'm a mature adult so we don't always know what they need,"said Smith.

Now the Police department has to narrow its list from 93 to 50 then the work begins.

"We can do different functions. I want them to bridge the gap with the police and the community. it's not just about us just being in a meeting. I don't want to just sit down as us talk. i want to be able to go out into the community and do different activities," said Smith.

Work Jizelle Reiley says is crucial to saving Tallahassee.

"I would look forward to seeing the difference actually happen," said Reiley.

The final 50 members of the council will be announced October 2.

Two of those people will also serve on the new Citizens Advisory Council.