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OGDEN — Police and school resource officers in Ogden are getting trained to better understand and interact with teenagers.
Strategies for Youth is a policy and training program that actively engages police, youth and youth-serving community-based organizations in an effort to address several ongoing issues, including contentious encounters between police and youth, unnecessary arrests of youth for minor offenses and disproportionate police contact with youth of color.
The Policing the Teen Brain in Schools training supports best practices between law enforcement and youth by providing a better understanding of how the development of the teen brain leads youth to perceive, process and respond differently. It aims to help officers avoid the use of force when working and interacting with teens.
"We hope officers will leave the training with additional insights and some new strategies for working effectively with youth and keeping them in school and safe," said David Walker, operations and training director at Strategies for Youth, which created the program.
Brett Peterson, director of Utah's Division of Juvenile Justice Services, said that the training is important for the state, which is in a "transformative progression."
"Juvenile reform has allowed us to unlock resources and strengthen our partnerships to collectively change young lives while promoting public safety. This partnership with Ogden School District, Ogden Police Department and Strategies for Youth will help equip our officers with additional skills — including strategies for de-escalation and a stronger understanding as to why youth behave the way they do," he said.
A mixture of police officers, school resource officers and school administrators were at the first day of training on Tuesday.
Ogden police Det. Colten Johansen, who is also a school resource officer at Ogden High School, said the training is important to help police and resource officers handle different situations that come up within the confines of a school.
"It helps us to have an understanding of where the kids are coming from," he said. "What their mental capacity is versus what they're going through (emotionally) — all those things as they're developing and changing — that helps us learn how to kind of be on their level and to help them through certain situations."
Johansen said the training helps him and others look at situations from different perspectives, something he believes is valuable in his role as a school resource officer.
It "helps me make me well-rounded decisions, to help these kids out and to know what things to help with (depending on) what situation arises," he said.
Ogden School District assistant superintendent Chad Carpenter said school administrators will be grateful for the help.
"We are working diligently to support both our students and our officers to have positive interactions, which leads to great success in the classroom and in our communities," he said.