CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Charleston Police Chief Greg Mullen says Project RISEE (Responsible Inspiring Students Embracing Excellence) will be a challenge for the students and for his officers.
"It would give the young person an opportunity to really start seeing things through the eyes of law enforcement, and it would also help the law enforcement officer to see things through the eyes of young people."
The program is being developed and implemented with several community partnerships like Addressing Basic Conflict, Polarity Thinking Models by Margaret Seidler, Turning Leaf Project, and MUSC's EMPOWERR program.
Thirty teenagers will be selected from the various city high schools. They will complete 60 hours of instruction between February and May and over 200 hours of community service over the summer.
Also among the community partners is REAL MAD or Real Men Against Domestic Violence. Director Butch Kennedy says the hope is to challenge mindsets and teach good decision making.
"The goal is for our youth to actually come out and meet local law enforcement and get to know one another, and, basically, educate our youth on what it is law enforcement does on a daily basis."
"Nobody grows up and wants to be a drug dealer,” says Mullen. “Nobody grows up and wants to be a robber or involved in crime, and we've been trying to figure out what it is that happens that causes that change, and a lot of times what we see is between middle school and high school is where people start to make some decisions that impact their lives for the rest of their lives."
Mullen says, while the program has been in the works for years, its launch couldn't come at a better time.
"It's very disheartening for me, having been in law enforcement for 28 years, to see the things that I'm seeing now, and I hope that through these type of projects and through working with great partners like REAL Mad and Project Unity that we will be able to make progress."
"We want the youth to know and understand their own self-worth, so they're not out in the street looking for it someplace else."
deadline is December 29.