Community forges new bonds through adopt-a-cop program

Community+forges+new+bonds+through+adopt-a-cop+program

Eleanor Ho

In the past few months, the news has been splattered with racially charged incidents involving the police, ranging from the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri to Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York. Now, community members are trying to make a difference by introducing the Adopt-a-Cop program into the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids area.

“The Adopt-a-Cop initiative is designed to promote positive interactions between minority male youth and local law enforcement,” said Dr. Alexander Lodge, Adopt-a-Cop’s director and coordinator.

The program brings together young men of color and the Iowa City and Coralville Police Departments in an effort to forge stronger bonds within the community.

“I was very supportive [of the Adopt-a-Cop program] from the outset,” said Coralville Police Chief Barry Bedford. “The Adopt-a-Cop program presents an opportunity to develop healthy dialogue and relationships that can benefit all involved in the future.”

Iowa City Police Chief Samuel Hargadine reacted in a similar manner.

“I was pleasantly surprised, especially with the animosity towards police across the nation right now,” Hargadine said. However, the roots of the program came from the very same incidents to which Hargadine referred.

“The young men of the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids Guide Right Programs addressed many of their thoughts and feelings about these situations. This developed into an idea to find ways to help bridge cultural gaps that may exist,” Lodge said.

The Guide Right Program is made up of Kappa League, Jr. Kappa League, and Kappa Kids, all branches of of a service initiative of the Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. One member of Kappa League, West High student Guy Snow ’18, was excited to join the program.

“We make care packages for them and we send them letters thanking them, and spend days with them. We basically get to know them,” Snow said. He wanted to join Adopt-a-Cop because of the positive effect he envisions happening.

“We can know that we can be safe and have a strong bond with the law enforcement program and not have the same situations going on in other parts of the world,” Snow said. Members of Jr. Kappa League and Kappa Kids began building that bond when they visited the Coralville and Iowa City Police Departments on Feb. 5.

“We broke the kids down in smaller groups so that one officer could give them a tour of the police department and answer questions that they might have had. I know in my group the kids were very inquisitive and I was very happy in answering their questions,” said Lieutenant Deborah Summers. She is confident about Adopt-a-Cop’s positive effect on the future.

“I read in the Press-Citizen [Friday] morning that one of the kids said we’re normal just like him. That’s how we want people to see us. Being able to give the younger generation the opportunity to see us this way is awesome and will hopefully stay with them as they age,” Summers said. Snow is likewise optimistic.

“I want the kids to grow up trusting the law enforcement so that if something happens, they can call them and even say their name,” Snow said. “I want to see them having a good relationship so we can build a great world.”

 

Anyone interested in supporting the Guide Right Programs may contact Dr. Lodge at [email protected] or call (318)436-9108 or donate at http://www.gofundme.com/jdbwtw.

 

Photo courtesy of Lt. Kron of the Coralville PD and Dr. Alexander Lodge.