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Bridging the Gap Between Teens and Cops
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Clarksdale teen gets advice from an officer on how to handle a stop
Alexis Ware

One Mississippi school is joining forces with state and local law enforcement to develop stronger relationships between officers and teenagers. MPB's Alexis Ware reports.

High school students and police officers from Clarksdale, along with the FBI and the US Attorney's office, are pioneers in a program called Bridge the Gap. The goal is to encourage open communication between law enforcement and local teens. 

Last week, 130 student at Clarksdale High School simulated the real life scenarios police officers experience every day, like routine traffic stops. 

Nat sound: "I explained to you why I stopped you, right? Did I explain to you why I stopped you?" "Yes sir." "So you can go ahead and carry on. Have a good day okay." 

11th grader, Aveyunna Ranson, says the event showed her that police are just like her.

"It was exciting to see that what the police officers deal with on a daily basis when they stop somebody in a traffic stop and to tell what the idea of it in their minds, saying they want to go home just like you want to go home." 

In one activity students had the chance to interrogate an officer in a role reversal scenario. Clarksdale Chief of Police William Read says the exercises helped both police and students have a better understanding of each other. 

"A lot of these students are at the crossroads when they're going to make some very important decisions in the next couple of years. The main thing is we don't want them to fear police. We're your friend. We're here to help you and to break that stigma. I know a lot of mistakes have been made and there will be more mistakes but this kind of helps the students and the officers understand each other." 

The FBI hopes to start Bridge the Gap programs across Mississippi.