Community Outreach and Mentoring

County: Buncombe

Grantee: North Buncombe High School

Title: Community Outreach and Mentoring

Description: The Weaverville Police Department began partnering with students at the local high school last year. Officers joined those students at a Town sponsored music event and ran a tent where they handed out free water, toys, and gifts with messages reminding citizens about the dangers of drinking and driving. The event proved to be a great opportunity to mentor the students and make connections with the citizens. Teachers at the high school subsequently invited the ABC Officers to visit their classes in efforts to have an open dialogue with law enforcement. The students had questions and concerns about local drug or alcohol use. A Powerpoint and Q&A session opened the lines of communication as well as breaking down some of the stereotypes the students believed about law enforcement.

Why This Project Was Chosen: The Town of Weaverville hosts multiple public events throughout the year. The North Buncombe High School’s JROTC participated at the same events as the Weaverville Police Department, often in complementary roles such as JROTC Color Guard paired with the Police Department Rifle Squad. The officers began getting familiar with the students. Relationships formed between the Weaverville Police Department and the instructors as well, and it wasn’t long until conversations turned to the needs of the high school students.

Who This Project Impacted: It impacted us all. The students seemed to react in a positive way during the presentations made at their school. When the students help the police during events in the community, both officers and citizens were honored to have the help. Building friendships between the students and the police seem to be affecting the relationship long-term by growing trust and opening dialogue.

Results of Project: The North Buncombe High School continues to express the desire to have involvement with the Weaverville Police Department. The hope is the educate the students on the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse after the students learn that officers are their allies. With luck, the positive dynamic will hopefully follow the students into adulthood.