The Akron Police Department and an anti-violence youth group known as the Akron PeaceMakers have collaborated together to create two-sided card that gives suggestions for dealing with police. The card will be given to every middle and high school student in the city.
The idea of the cards came from a December meeting after police in Cleveland shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice on a playground.
According to NPR, the “You and the Law” cards begin with the big picture: Stay out of trouble. And then a rapid succession of 15 points — control your emotions, answer questions about your identity, put your hands on the steering wheel in plain sight. The reverse side of the card advises students to report police misconduct and includes the proper phone numbers to call.
Devin Clark, a member of the youth group, says they raised $1,500 to print 50,000 of the cards.
“When they get put in the situation, they’re going to look back at that card and be like, ‘Wow. You know, that helped when I actually read that.’ It’ll put them in a better position,” Clark says.
The reaction is one of interest over at Firestone High School with some debate over the responsibilities of officers in the encounters. One student, Rachel Cooke, says it’s important for the cards to show that police can be the instigators.
“I’m not saying that all cops are bad, but there are cops that are drunk on their power, I would say. So I think that it holds them responsible so they can stay in line,” Cooke says. “They have to obey the law just like we do.”
Another student, Ryan Hall, says he welcomes the debate.
“This is almost a preventative measure,” Hall says. “In many cases it was a small situation that has escalated to end up being a much larger situation.”
Retired Akron police sergeant Willa Keith works with the Akron PeaceMakers and says it’s about building trust.
“We are all working for the same goal. We want peace in the city, we want harmony, we want to live the best lives that we can,” Keith says.
The group plans to expand the program, distributing them to adults and possibly extending the program internationally.