Baltimore’s Youth Explorers help restore trust between police and citizens

Growing up, Genara Lattimore thought the police only came around when there was trouble–or to start trouble. In her neighborhood, they were known as the “jump-out boys.” As a teenger, she’d had her share of negative encounters with the police. So when an officer “jumped” out of his car to buy her an ice cream cone, all she could do was ask, “Why?”

I was 16 at the time, and I did not like police. I grew up in Whitelock and when I saw police, they were the bad ones,” Lattimore told the AFRO. “But he sat down and started talking to me about random stuff, asking me for my thoughts on how to make the playground in my neighborhood better. I thought, ‘Oh, my goodness. It’s really nice police out there that’s going to help in the community.

That encounter inspired Lattimore to join the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) as a cadet.

Eleven years later, she continues her journey in law enforcement as the officer-in-charge of the BPD’s Explorers program for youth ages 14-21.

For 30 years, Explorers has been facilitating positive encounters between youth and police within the community by providing a curriculum-based program that aims to cultivate youth into productive citizens through career development in law enforcement.

The program recruits youth from across the city to interact with police officers in academic and recreational settings to learn about the history, structure, and culture of law enforcement.

“We are empowering the next generation of law enforcement,” Lyn Twyman, Explorers’ program administrator. “By connecting youth with police we are building a bridge for home grown officers to enter into the BPD that understand the dynamics of the community.

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