Teens learn how to respond to police

We rely on police officers to keep us safe and treat us all fairly regardless of race, origin or religion. But, police officials say it is also important for citizens to understand their rights and know how to interact with law enforcement.

Since the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and the shooting of a local man holding an air rifle in the Beavercreek Walmart, some parents are wondering if young people know what to do and say when they are stopped by the police.

"I'm the mother of three sons, African-American sons. So I never want them to be afraid of the police," said Miracle Mitchell. "I teach my sons to respect the police, but sometimes it's hard to do when you look on TV and you see bad all the time with the police."

Mitchell was the organizer of a recent panel discussion between parents, teens and local law enforcement called "Policing the Community." The event was designed to teach teens how to properly respond to officers of the law and avoid another tragic incident.

"The way in which you interact with us when we engage with you, goes a long way," said Sgt. Vee Witcher, of the Piqua Post of the Ohio Highway Patrol.

"Cooperate with law enforcement because they're there for a purpose or they're stopping you for a purpose. Cooperate with them, be respectful and hopefully, they'll be respectful with you as well," said Maj. Daryl Wilson of the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office.

Maj. Daryl Wilson of the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office said if you are stopped by officers, you do have a right to ask why. However, it's how you communicate that is important.

A 15-year-old from Huber Heights said he is afraid of the police after what happened to him recently while walking home from school. L'Christian Smith said he was stopped by officers, handcuffed and put into the back of a police cruiser.

"I was real scared. I mean, I was like, I was almost in tears in the backseat," Smith said. "I was like, I didn't do anything! Then I started to get emotional and stuff because he wouldn't believe me."

Lorenzo Smith, L'Christian's father, was upset too.

"I think being a young, black man coming home from school with his book bag on his back, and it was just like he was singled out, " said Smith.

The officers said anyone who believes their rights have been violated, or if they have been disrespected, they should go to the head of that particular agency and file a complaint. They also said cuts in funding that ended community programs like "Dare" and school resource officers, have led to a breakdown in the relationships between police departments and young people.

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