JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Police officers and deputies from across Florida came together Saturday in Jacksonville with dozens of young people for an event called One Day.
It's an effort to build the relationship between law enforcement and young people.
"We were given paper and some masking tape, and told we had to go to a shelter that was attached to the floor," St. Johns County Deputy Kelly Kemp said.
That's how Kelly Kemp describes the finished project, a make-shift shelter he helped build with young people from his area and Satellite Beach.
But this was more than a project; it's an effort to build relationships between law enforcement and young people.
"(I) think it helps kids see that they can be positive with police officers, their encounter with police officers, know that we're just human beings and they are doing a job instead of thinking that it's us against them," Kelly Kemp said.
Kelly Kemp's team was just one of several teams of officers and teens at the Police Athletic League in Northwest Jacksonville for an event the group calls One Day.
Organizers hope one day the relationship between law enforcement and young people in the community will be a working one.
That's why nearly 80 kids from across the state got to spend time with about 40 Florida law enforcement officers.
"It's really a good thing because we get to know the cops are and that maybe some of us think that they are just these mean guys that go around just trying to find trouble, but we get to relate with them because these are all real officers so we can relate with them and kind of trade out. You know what we're going through," said Caleb Kemp, who attended the event.
"I learned to be more open because that's not my personality," said Sevonte Camps.
Organizers said this is really though about building communication and relationships between law enforcement and young people. It's something they hope will, in turn, transform communities.
L.B. Scott, head of the Florida Association of Police Athletic League, said there needed to be a place where officers and young people can just talk, because right now it doesn't happen.
"Our guys today ride in cars most of the time," Scott said. "The only time most of these kids have any interaction with them is when something is wrong. So we need to have them understand that we are human beings we can communicate care about what happens to them."
Channel 4 Crime and Safety Analyst Gil Smith took part, too, saying what happens inside these walls can help officers fight crime outside them.
"This translates back to you on the streets to how a police officer might need some assistance from them in terms of information," Smith said. "They'll feel comfortable talking to police because they've had a more positive interaction with them."
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