Open discussion aims to keep cops and kids safe

TOPEKA (KSNT) — Topeka Police officers and the Shawnee County Sheriff met with local high school students Wednesday in hopes of improving how the two groups get along, something a Topeka woman set it all in motion.

“I just want to keep them safe, you know,” said Emma Ray, a community activist.

Ray describes herself as a woman on a mission, a mission to protect our youth.

“Nowadays kids are pretty much raising themselves, except the school and the streets, and that’s not a healthy combination,” said Ray.

That’s why Ray is teaming up with local law enforcement, to give students the tools they need to avoid an escalating encounter like the one leading to the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson.

“We felt it was very important that they know the current policies of the Police Department and how to go away hopefully positively from a police encounter and understanding why we do what we do,” said Matt McClimans, a School Resource Officer for the Topeka Police Department.

Speaking with hundreds of students at Topeka High School, Sheriff Herman Jones says it’s really pretty simple.

“I think if we give respect we receive it back,” said Sheriff Jones.

Officers took some very critical questions from students Wednesday, many of which echoed concerns out of Ferguson about basic rights and freedoms being violated.

But overall most students we spoke with found the workshop productive.

“We should listen to them, and that’s how we can avoid things like Ferguson happening,” said Elizabeth Mugler, a Junior at Topeka High School.

And that’s what Emma Ray was looking for.

Officers say they’re pleased with the dialogue and hope students now have the tools they need to stay safe.

Ray plans to hold another “Keeping Me Safe” workshop at Highland Park High School on April 29th.

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