INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Dozens of young men, ages 12 to 18, were celebrated and rewarded Wednesday evening for their participation in the IMPD Cares mentoring program. CARES stands for Children Accepting Responsibility for their Education and Success.
For months, some of them years, these guys have taken part in this program and the one the IMPD’s Community Engagement Bureau is phasing out, the OK Program.
“First we only served Black male students between the ages of 12 to 18,” Sgt. Antwon Keyes said. “Now we serve all students between the ages of 12 to 18.”
This program offers the participants lessons in financial literacy, conflict resolution and even a book club started by Officer Tronoy Harris.
“A lot of the kids, they’re behind,” Harris said. “They’re not understanding what’s being presented to them so they act out. So what we’re trying to do is get them to grade level, with the reading club as well as the other tutoring that we have in place for them, so when they’re in class, they want to learn and they understand what’s being told to them.”
These officers are involved in the students’ lives at school and at home.
“They’re called home visits,” Sgt. Keyes said. “That’s also a component of it. It’s not just a school program even though we are at the schools with the kids. We also talk to the kids at home to make sure they have all of the tools that they need at home to be successful because a lot of the kids come from single-parent homes, moms are working. The moms have several other children to deal with, so we just try to help out however we can.”
16-year-old Ricky Cole said the program’s impacted his life.
“I was a loner, I didn’t really go out of the house,” Cole explained. “But when I joined the program, I got a lot of friends and stuff.”
Plus, Cole said it changed his perception of police.
“At first people always said officers weren’t good, but now I see there’s some good ones out there,” Cole said.
Sgt. Keyes, who launched IMPD Cares, feels privileged to help inspire these young people to reach higher and dream bigger because he knows they are capable.
“We’re trying to do our best to ensure they have a happy life and a successful life in the longterm,” Keyes said.