TULSA, Okla. — A new program is bringing students and law enforcement officers together to build stronger relationships in North Tulsa.
Marvell Lyles and Terrel Dewberry are fourth-graders at Drexel Academy. They are friends who study together and share in the fun together. Last Saturday they went bowling at Andy B's.
“When we got there, we got our bowling shoes and we picked out our balls and put our names in,” Terrel said.
“...and then we just started bowling,” Marvell said.
They said it was unforgettable.
“That was actually an awesome experience,” Marvell said.
When they arrived, men and women in badges were waiting for them in the bowling lanes. They are part of the Badges Program. The Tulsa Dream Center, Law Enforcement Officers, and Three North Tulsa Schools have partnered to strengthen relationships between officers and students.
“The kids need to know that they can trust an officer," Rodney Garnett, community engagement coordinator for The Badge Program and the Tulsa Dream Center said.
Garnett said negative experiences often shape a student's view of law officers.
“They never see a positive side of a police officer, it’s always when a police officer came to a scene it was to arrest someone,” Garnett said.
But through this program, they hope to strike down negative perceptions and pin positive ones instead.
“We’re all having a good time…bowling…eating pizza..getting ready to play some laser tag,” Honeycutt said.
It's already proven effective.
“It changed their mind, they’ve seen a different side of a police officer. They’ve seen the smile, they’ve seen the laughter, they’ve seen the joy…They’ve seen the excitement to be out here bowling with the kids. That’s what I think changed them,” Garnett said.
“Cops don’t harm people and they help people,” Terrell said.
Now, Terell and Marvell are dreaming of one day earning a badge.
“I want to be a police officer because they save lives," Marvel said.
The three schools participating in the badge program are Hawthorne Elementary and Monroe Demonstration Academy and Drexel Academy.
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