Teens, officers build house, break barriers

Jacksonville police join nonprofit to volunteer building home

By Crystal Moyer - Traffic/reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Dozens of teens and Jacksonville police officers spent the day Thursday building a home -- and some positive relationships.

The teens are from a nonprofit organization called AMIkids Jacksonville, which supports children with troubled pasts.

They volunteered Thursday alongside members of the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office to build a home for Beaches Habitat for Humanity in the OceanGate neighborhood on Mayport Road.

PHOTOS: Teens, cops build house, positive relationships

The event also launched a new partnership between JSO and AMIkids called Breaking Barriers.

The program is geared toward increasing trust and bridging the gap between police and at-risk youth by partnering the teens with law enforcement.

Many of the teens who volunteered have had run-ins with the law and were able to get to know the officers in a different setting.

"The misconception is that a lot of these children are where they are and don't want to change,” Officer Ed Solis said. “But these young folks are teaching me otherwise. They want to get out. They want to do better and learn a trade. They want to benefit their community."

Many of the teens and officers said the interaction gave them a better understanding of each other.

“People have a negative perspective of police, but once you sit down and talk to them, you realize they're just regular people,” 17-year-old William Jackson said.

As part of the new program, the teens also had dinner with officers and held a Q& A to discuss their concerns.

They plan to hold more events involving the community.

For more information, visit: AMIkids.org.

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