Program improving relationships between youth and police in Dauphin Co.

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

SUSQUEHANNA TWP., Pa. -- One group in Dauphin County is helping to reduce the number of youths arrested in the area.

The decrease is partially attributed to teenagers learning more about police officers and their jobs. That's according to the Disproportionate Minority Contact Subcommittee in Susquehanna Township.

Lt. Francia Done, the chair of the group in Susquehanna Township, said, "We explain to youth what they can and can't do and how they should react when they come into contact with a police officer."

Law enforcement forums are held twice a year for students in Susquehanna Township schools.

Done said, "We have seen a decline in overall arrests for all youth in Susquehanna Township over the years that our program has been implemented."

Now the subcommittee, overseen and funded by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, is hoping to expand.

"We are also partnering on a county-wide initiative with Harrisburg city and all the jurisdictions in Dauphin County to try to implement similar types of programs for all youth in Dauphin County," she said.

Harrisburg city leaders are also working alongside officials with eight other municipalities in Dauphin County to get the DMC program running.

Karl Singleton, the senior adviser to the Harrisburg mayor, said, "We thought that the best practice would be to be proactive. Bring all these municipalities together and have a real, raw dialogue and discussion."

When it comes to making a change in the legal system, Singleton also suggests other opportunities for youth, especially minorities.

"One of the things that we promote is that law enforcement in itself and the legal system in itself is an excellent career pathway for our young people of color. One of the best ways to ensure that there's social justice," Singleton said.