Police taking initiative to help West Philly youth through summer program

WEST PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia police officers from the 19th District could show up to your door - but not to make an arrest.

They're promoting their Summer Youth Initiative Program.

The goal is to provide kids, ages 12 through 16, with something productive to do over the summer.

"We need more programs like this for our community," said Sherrell Redfern of West Philadelphia.

It didn't take long to find passionate residents in West Philadelphia supporting positive community policing.

"12-16 is really that age when they really start to follow the wrong crowd, and if you don't show them that this is what you're gonna do, they're gonna do the opposite," said Redfern.

Capt. Joseph Bologna knows summers are a hot time for kids to get into trouble, but he's hoping this initiative will motivate them to stay off the streets and also see officers in a positive light.

"Everybody wins here, and I think they're gonna come away with, 'Wow, the police are cool,' " said Capt. Bologna, 19th District.

Patrols visited businesses looking for sponsors, and also plan to hit the streets looking for parents who want to sign up their kids.

Neighborhood companies say it's in investment in children and the community.

"One of the things we always have is the summer time we worry about the kids, and what are they going to be doing for the time they're out of school, so this program fits right into this," said Miller Parker, Philadelphia Business and Technology Center.

The 19th District holds similar programs every year, but new this time around is they will take students on field trips to get them out of West Philadelphia and expose them to other communities and careers.

"We're taking them to the radio stations, we're taking them to the news stations, we're taking them to Lincoln Financial," said Capt. Bologna. "We have a tour shop at our Aviation Unit, our K-9 Unit."

It's only one summer, but many believe the benefits will be lasting.

"With programs like this it helps reduce the crime rate, it helps keep kids out of trouble," said Evan Lessa, Gold's Pharmacy.

The 10-week program will start June 27.
Copyright © 2019 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.