photos by Alyssa Castro
by We’Ced Youth Reporters
Ed Note: On Saturday January 10, more than two dozen young people gathered at the newly opened McNamara Youth Center in South Merced to participate in a conversation on the relationship between law enforcement and youth. Organized by community organizations Youth-I-Can and MOJO, the event featured Merced NAACP President and current Sheriff Darryl Davis as a speaker. Davis shared his personal journey as a law enforcement officer as well as practical tips to help youth stay safe while dealing with law enforcement.
We’Ced youth reporters spoke with youth attendees to hear more about the experiences between youth and law enforcement in Merced and the insights gained from Saturday’s dialogue. Visit our Facebook page to see more pictures from Saturday.
Sapphire Oseguera, 16
My favorite part of today was learning about Miranda Rights. I’ve been detained and questioned before and I always thought they were supposed to read me my Miranda Rights. I told the police officers about that and they didn’t do anything about it but I learned today that they only have to read you those rights if you’re being arrested and they’re questioning you.
We also learned about what is proper searching, especially when it’s a cop of a different gender. I’ve gotten searched before by a male cop but he did not use the back of his hand the way officer Darryl Davis showed us, he used the front of his hand. When I went to complain about that I was told that was ok. I learned today that it wasn’t okay and that I was right.
Honestly, I don’t know if anything can be done to improve the relationship between police and youth. Young people are going to think that cops think the way they think, some are stubborn and won’t change that. I know because I used to be one of those that thought ‘cops are pigs, don’t talk to them and don’t deal with them.’ I don’t know how to change that, it’s hard for teens to listen.
I think young people don’t trust the police because of incidents that happen, like how they did that guy in New York where he couldn’t breathe and he had already surrendered. Some kids have personal experiences with cops that make them not trust them, like I’ve had.
Officer Darryl Davis did change the way I think about police. In my family we don’t talk to cops, you don’t deal with them, if they come around you don’t know anything. That’s how I’ve been but he changed my outlook today. Not all of them are bad even though not all of them are good.
Nathan Kist, 16
My experience with local police has had its pros and cons. In my neighborhood there is not that much connection between police and youth, that’s what we need to improve on.
Our police and our youth should collaborate more. We could have more meetings with our police officers, like today, that would actually improve our system and help youth not get in trouble and not go to jail.
I think the media has a big influence on the youth. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, everything you see on TV does brainwash people and they don’t get the full understanding of police. I think young people can educate themselves by talking to police, getting their opinions, actually going to the police and interacting with them.
Cathy Williams, 17
My favorite part of today was learning about the Miranda Rights, learning about what police can and can’t do to you, what is excessive. All that was very informational to me.
I feel like some law enforcement officers are too much. They do the most. Some of them are actually good cops, I know a few good cops in Merced. I usually steer away from cops unless they are the ones I know. In my neighborhood the saying on the street is “snitches get stitches.” If you talk to a cop you could end up getting hurt when somebody finds out.
I’m not quite sure how to improve the relationship between police and young people, that’s a good question. I would ask incarcerated youth to answer that.
Sabina Perez, 17
I came today to be more informed about law enforcement and other youth’s lives and what is going on today. I work behind the Sheriff’s department. I’m currently a Sheriff Explorer going on almost two years. I really like it even though it has its downfalls. I really enjoy working with law enforcement.
I have to say there is alot of gang violence in my neighborhood so you see the Sheriff’s Department coming down asking kids what they’re doing or asking them if they’re on probation and things like that. I think when youth see police officers arresting their friends, that hurts their trust with police. I think law enforcement needs to get involved more in the community, go out there more and see what it’s like.
I think if both police and youth got to know each other on a better note and not insulting each other right when they see each other [there would be more respect between them]. I think youth could not look at everyone that’s behind a badge as bad and law enforcement doesn’t need to see everyone dressed a certain way as gangsters. Don’t make assumptions and don’t judge people right away.
Julian Johnson, 16
What was most useful to me about today was hearing officer Darryl Davis’ story as well as hearing from him on positive things to do with our lives.
My experience with cops is good. I’ve never really been on the bad side of police, I’ve stayed on the right track. In my neighborhood most youth are disobedient when it comes to the police but in other times they can be real peaceful.
I think seeing the news on how police treat others in our country and in our city prevents people from feeling like they can trust police. I think youth could show more respect to police, that would improve how police treat youth as well.
Rodolfo Rivera, 19
I came today because I’m an active member of Youth I Can and MOJO as well. I’ve been in bad situations with police so I can vouch for what that’s like for other youth. I don’t like to see people going through the same situations as I’ve been. Today I learned how to come at an officer with respect today, instead of just going all out crazy and escalating the situation more than it is.
I’m on probation so I deal with law enforcement all the time. Ever since I was 10 years old I was getting in trouble with the police. I started doing drugs when I was 10 and getting beat by my dad from it and going to report it to the police and having the police stop me to check me if I had marijuana on me. Dealing with the police was a big hassle for me growing up.
I think respect is key. Mutual respect could go a long way to improving relations between youth and police. In the town that I grew up in, Dos Palos, like I mentioned during the presentation, there would be cops using excessive force. I can’t really say anything for anybody else but I know down there they’re pretty crazy. I’ve heard a bunch of different stories.