FOUNTAIN — Keep your hands on the wheel. Don't reach for anything, and listen to the officer. This is "the talk" that many African American parents say they give to their children, on how to interact with police.
Frank Lytle, a local engineer and business owner has had at least two of them with his daughters.
"With my youngest daughter I was in the car with her and an officer pulled her over and I had to teach her what to do," Lytle said. "It was really a learning experience."
When Lytle is not giving the talk to them, he's having the same conversation with other young men in the community. Frank is a member of the Colorado Springs Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., a fraternity that helps mentor teens, but because of COVID, the programs were paused a year ago.
"As African-Americans we need to understand that the objective is to live. If we want to protest we can always protest later," Lytle said.
Lytle says the programs will resume once things back to normal. In the meantime, a local police department is having that same conversation with teens in Fountain. Sergeant Matthew Sanchez is a resource officer with the Fountain Police Department. He has teamed up with educators at the Welte Education Center, an alternative school, to teach classes on this subject.
"We do want to humanize that badge a little bit and we want to make sure our officers are approachable," Sanchez said. "We do traffic stops to slow them down."
Part one of the program involves classroom instruction, and the other part involves an actual demonstration. Teens get inside a car, they get pulled over by a traffic officer, and then they learn how to interact with law enforcement during traffic stops.
"What I like about having resource officers in our schools is that it can dispel the myth that you can't have a positive relationship with law enforcement," said Cito Nuhn, Principal of the Welte Education Center.
For more information on this program click here.