Feedback of a New Variety
Over the past six months a handful of Portland Police Officers, lead by Youth Services Officer, Ray Ruby, have been visiting with several Portland youth who are incarcerated at Longcreek Youth Development Center in South Portland. Recently, the youth gave some feedback to the officers, confirming that their time and efforts are truly appreciated.
The initiative was implemented in late 2010 and became a monthly commitment in the spring of 2011. Officers typically spend an hour or more each month talking with the youth, listening to their experiences and opinions, answering their questions, sharing their own experiences, and even playing basketball. Throughout the months, Officers Rick Ray, Coreena Behnke, Steve Black, and Sgt. Chuck Libby have joined Officer Ruby, establishing rapport and creating a lasting bond with many of the youth.
During a recent visit, youth participating in the initiative were asked to answer one question: “Have your thoughts or your opinions of the Portland Police Department changed since officers started coming into Longcreek and meeting with you?”
Here are some of the answers:
“About some officers…It’s good to know there are some out there who care more about the community then themselves.”
“This is my first time attending this but I thought it was very beneficial. I have a lot more respect for the police now, knowing that they want the best for us. Thank you for taking the time to come and talk with us.”
“I mean, not a whole lot. I still have my feelings and experiences with the police that will never change. But it was nice to see them in a new light.”
“Yeah, it helps me out. I never used to talk to cops because I thought they were all (expletive). But, they’re nice people that are trying to help out.”
“No because this is the first time I’ve seen officers come into Longcreek. I didn’t learn much. But I think it’s nice you people volunteer here. It shows good character. I’ve never had a grudge with police. I neither like nor dislike them. But thanks for taking the time to share.”
“Yes, because it shows that they actually really do care about us and that they’re trying to help us.”
“I hear about the same ‘drama’ with stuff that’s happening out there while I’m in here. So I don’t know. It’s good that ya’ll here so you can separate your word from the media.”
“Yes, at first I thought police didn’t care or understand criminals. Now I realize they do.”
“No, it just shows there are nicer cops then others.”
“I appreciate you guys taking the time out of your lives to come in and speak with us. It helps us understand what you guys are all about. Thanks for the pizza!”
“I think my thoughts of you guys mostly changed when you came to my school and did like some play performance thing. It showed me you guys as real people not just cops. So this is setting everything in stone.”
As we look forward to the future, more officers will be joining Officer Ruby, some personally requested by the youth. We expect this program to continue and be a great benefit to everyone involved and the whole community.