Peoria Public Schools Leadership Academy aims to improve relations between students, police

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PEORIA, Ill.–The relationship between the police and the community isn’t always healthy.

The Implicit Bias Training hosted by Peoria Public Schools at Manual Academy aimed to improve that relationship, train high school students to be future leaders, and make a positive difference in their communities.

“This could actually help our community and more people in the future because even though sometimes we argue with the police, we do this, we say this about them, I think we actually need them, and they need us. We need to have a good relationship for this to work out,” said Manual junior Jalen Bradley.

“I’m tired of seeing everybody saying police do that, police do this, but never been through it. But police are here to help,” said Manual senior Steven Smith.

Officers from different schools around Peoria came to this training. They want the students to know they care about them, and want to improve their relationship.

“I don’t want them to just see the uniform, we’re more than just the uniform. We came from the same grassroots as them. A lot of the officers that we have graduated from the same schools that they’re attending. We want to tear down those stereotypes and show them we’re human,” said Chief of School Safety at Peoria Public Schools Demario Boone.

Stanton Hangen helped organize the Leadership Academy. He says the kids are standing up to violence in Peoria, and want to put a stop to it.

“The kids were really moved by the 4-year-old getting murdered. That was kind of the emphasis for some of this too because a lot of our kids said ‘we’re not gonna take this, this isn’t something we’re going to allow,” Hangen said.

Agbara Bryson was the guest speaker at the Implicit Bias Training. He hopes it brings empathy and understanding to both the students and the officers.

“At the end of the day we want the students to understand what the police go through, in terms of their issues and challenges. On the other hand, we want the police to know what the students issues and challenges are,” Bryson said.

After every session the students get access to a network of contacts they can reach out to if they need help, career advice, or just someone to talk to.

There were about 20 students there on Tuesday. These future leaders don’t get credit for attending, there’s no food involved, and they still took the time out of their mornings in their summer breaks to attend and learn something new. That’s pretty impressive.

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