NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)-- Opening up the conversation between police and kids. That's the goal of a program in New Haven.
Around Farnam Courts, 75-year-old Nezzie Ransom says she knows everyone and everyone knows her and her 17-year-old grandson Lonzo.
"Everybody takes to Lonzo because Lonzo is an outspoken guy, and he knows where he's going and he knows the right thing," said Ransom.
That's why she says the New Haven police approached her son to join the Youth and Police Initiative.
"The uniform scares people. So, they don't want to talk to the cops," said Lonzo Reed.
So he joined other kids from Elm city housing authority apartments in a three week program meant to build trust between police and teens.
"I was kinda shy to speak up to them, because they were police, some people don't like to talk to police," said Reed.
Sergeant Vincent Anastasio pounds the pavement as the the East Shore Substation's District Manager.
"A lot of these kids really have no chance in life, you know from the beginning, because a lot of their siblings are in jail or they were killed somehow," said Anastasio.
He says just a couple of dozen kids have gone through the program since last year.
When asked if he's seen a difference yet, Anastasio said, "I see it when I show up in a crisis situation and those kids happen to be around in that environment and when they see me, I get a wink, I get a smile I get a wave."
Ransom has noticed some change too.
"They already had respect for the police and I think they have more now than they did before," said Ransom.
"I really got to find out who the police were outside of the uniform and what they do, and got to became friends with them," said Reed.
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