San Francisco Cops Go Back to School to Better Understand Teens 06-06-18

Photo: SF Chronicle / Liz Hafalia

Seven teens loitered in a San Francisco park, and before long two police officers shuffled over and started grilling them.

“Get over here,” a female officer yelled. “Sit your ass down.”

Five of the kids stared at the officer with wide eyes and promptly planted themselves on the ground. Two others crossed their arms and ignored the officer’s commands.

Suddenly, the officer burst out laughing and hugged the flustered kids. “Sorry,” she said, “sorry!

This was the first role playing exercise of the day. Instead of standing in an imaginary park, the teens and police were in a conference room at the Scottish Rite Masonic Center. The officers had been instructed to aggressively question the teens, who were told to then tell the officers how it made them feel. The seminar was part of a four-day training called Policing the Teen Brain, which is designed to help about 25 city police officers improve relationships with children and teens and equip cops with tools to de-escalate situations and avoid the use of force.

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