The Rochester Police Department, Rochester City School District, and Big Brothers Big Sisters announced a new mentorship program on Tuesday.
Mayor Lovely Warren, Police Chief LaRon Singletary, representatives from the child advocacy group and the school district gathered at City Hall to announce "Bigs in Blue," a partnership Warren says will help children improve community relations with the RPD.
“’Bigs In Blue’ matches RPD officers as big brothers and big sisters with city school children who can benefit from the one-on-one interaction with caring adults," Warren said.
The mayor says she's a firm believer in the power of mentors, adding she wouldn't be where she is today without them. She says the program advances the ideals of community policing.
CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rochester, Tina Christensen, says mentoring makes connections and changes lives.
“There's research and outcomes that prove that if you put a child with an adult, and are able to support that match, and watch that relationship grow, it really is life-changing," she said.
Police Chief La 'Ron Singletary says mentorship programs like this can form relationships and provide guidance for young people; programs like this could also help combat the violence that was apparent in the city over the weekend.
“I'm a believer in it.” he said. “I'm very optimistic. I think if people have an opportunity to have an adult who they can look toward for a mentor, look toward for advice. Sometimes we just need someone to talk to.”
The RPD says it will provide 20 partnerships for now; Big Brothers Big Sisters hopes to eventually match 100 city school kids with officers in the mentorship program.
Mayor Lovely Warren discusses the concept of “Bigs In Blue:”