Oakland Police: Building Community
A key component of a youth’s success in adulthood is having a community that supports and cares for them. However, many youth feel overlooked by society. For foster youth, this sentiment is even more prevalent. And, given the overrepresentation of current and former foster youth in the juvenile and adult justice systems, positive relationships with our local peace officers is critical. This is why B:E’s housing program is building bridges with Oakland Police Department (OPD).
B:E provides housing for current and former foster youth through our community housing program in East Oakland. Each youth has his or her own room and receives support from onsite staff. For the last 2 years or so B:E has worked closely with OPD which has provided gang awareness trainings and other facilitated trainings for youth and B:E staff. OPD Beat Officer Kristina Tikkanen has made a significant impact on B:E’s community houses with a watchful eye over our youth and personal commitment to the program. Last year B:E honored her for going above and beyond the call of duty. Veteran OPD captain Ersie Joyner has also played a key role. Captain Joyner explains, “It’s important that we continue to develop and maintain a partnership with B:E. In my 28 years of law enforcement, I’ve learned many things but one of the most important is that programs and agencies, or even individuals, don’t change things: relationships do.”
Oakland Police Department is forging authentic relationships with foster youth and B:E staff – this is the essence of community building. In 2016 OPD “adopted” B:E’s Garfield House for the holiday season, providing a Christmas tree complete with gifts under it for house members and their children as well as a catered traditional Christmas dinner. This past Christmas OPD turned into Saint Nick once again and delivered holiday gifts to foster youth in all three of B:E’s houses. Captain Joyner even dressed up as Santa Claus to spread holiday cheer to the housing clients and their kids. B:E is grateful for OPD’s support and dedication to foster youth, during the holidays and beyond.