AUSTIN (KXAN) - The Austin Police Department is launching a new PoliceActivities League of Austin program this coming Janauary.
The idea is to build trust with Austin youth and police throughdeveloping mentoring relationships and athletics.
Police said they are hoping to recruit at least 150 students inthe Central East Austin area by January 2010, when the programstarts. Senior Police Officer Eric Oakmon is heading theproject.
"The goal is to change each child's perception of police," saidOakmon.
Police will start by creating a basketball league through theBoys and Girls' Club in Central Austin. However, Oakmon said hehopes that will be just the beginning of a citywide program tochange the police image.
"Many times, these kids don't think of us as human beings," saidOakmon. "We have children and families, too, and we want the samethings we want for them that we want for our kids."
Following the fatal shooting of Nathaniel Sanders II, 18, backin May, the police department heard from East Austin communitymembers that more needs to be done to bridge the gap.
"We want to start young, so we are focusing on kids between 7-and 18 years old for now," said Oakmon.
However, Oakmon said he would eventually like to see the projectexpanded.
Oakmon said another fairly new program APD Chief Art Acevedobrought back to the department is the Explorer Program. Thatprogram recruits students between 14- and 20 years old to teach andtrain them to become police officers.
Federal, state and local authorities on Wednesday arrested 15 people and seized 70 firearms in raid on a methamphetamine operation based in Burnet County.
A 13-year-old girl who told police she had been kidnapped from her school and assaulted on Monday, admitted to police she made the story up.
TxTAG’s customer call center lines are jammed as toll road violators scramble to pay up and avoid staying on a published scofflaw list.
The U.S. Grand Prix race in Austin next year will be held Nov. 2 and F1 weekend will not coincide with a UT Longhorns home football game.
One woman died early Wednesday after several shots were fired at a North Austin mechanic shop.
Bomb squad officials reported to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport after a suspicious package located in a cargo area Wednesday.