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Stories about kids, guns and how to stop the violence. Precious Lives, created by 371 Productions, is a 2-year, 100-part weekly radio series about gun violence and young people in the Milwaukee area. The series applies a public health lens to each story to help listeners understand the full scope of the problem: who are the victims and the shooters; how are the weapons obtained; and what can we change about the environment that contributes to violence in Milwaukee?

#025 Precious Lives: Milwaukee Police Visit Classrooms to Repair Community Relationships

Courtesy of Bill Singleton
Officer Bill Singleton helped create the STOP program, or Students Talking it Over with Police to help repair community relationships. He helps facilitate the program for student leaders in Milwaukee schools.

Where there’s a lot of gun violence, there are a lot of cops. Milwaukee’s police Chief Edward Flynn describes this as a data driven approach to policing.

In these neighborhoods, teens frequently encounter the police. And the Milwaukee Police have recognized that these interactions aren’t great -­ partly because of a lack of mutual understanding.

The STOP program, or Student Talking it Over with Police, is MPD’s attempt at repairing community relationships by meeting with kids in the classroom.

“When you see police officers in uniform... the first thing that pops into your mind is something’s wrong. What we’re trying to do is change a culture. Change a culture of perception, the way people view police,” Officer Bill Singleton Singleton says.

Singleton helped create the STOP program. He hopes it will translate outside of the classroom and help reduce the likelihood that teens will have a negative experience with police.

Without a doubt, students have formed bonds with the officers in their classroom. Each understand the other better. But it still remains to be seen whether or not STOP makes a difference in neighborhoods. One thing’s for sure, everyone recognizes that the status quo will not do.

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