Sarasota Police officers talk to kids about violence

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SARASOTA, FL. - After a man was shot at a children’s football practice in Manatee County last week, community leaders in Sarasota decided to reach out to our local kids.

This week, a series of discussions will be held in various Sarasota locations in an effort to get kids to talk about violence. The community leaders, including Leslie Harrell with F.O.C.U.S. Ministerial Alliance, want to show local children violence is not normal.

Sarasota Police Officer Dominic Harris, along with other members of the Sarasota Police Department and the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, are starting the conversation.

On Monday, Officer Harris spent time talking with kids at the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex in Sarasota. He asked them ‘What are you seeing that you don’t like?’ Many kids responded with examples of crimes and drugs in their neighborhood. Ofc. Harris rewarded good answers with candy and clapping in a show of support. Ofc. Harris stressed the kids in the room were the heroes.

Officer Harris spoke about the importance of reporting crime and bullying. He reminded them if they see something, they should say something. They have the power to make bullying stop. It’s not snitching. It’s doing the right thing.

Chief Bernadette DiPino also spoke with the group. She wanted the children to know police officers are their friends. She asked the kids to wave to our police officers when they see them on patrol and promised they would get candy on Halloween from our officers in their patrol cars.

This is the first in the series this week being held by F.O.C.U.S. Ministerial Alliance with help from the Sarasota Police Department and Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office to develop relationships and trust with the youth in the City of Sarasota.

Officer Harris will be speaking with kids two other times this week:

Tuesday, August 6, 2013 – 2:30 p.m. at Newtown Estates Gym 2800 Newtown Blvd, Sarasota

Wednesday, August 7, 2013 – 1 p.m. at the Boys and Girls Club, 1790 21st Street, Sarasota.