Police and teens connect in a positive environment at a community bowling event in San Antonio

SAN ANTONIO – A former San Antonio police officer is working with a local nonprofit to help connect young people with the police in a positive environment.

Troy Smith, the creator of the Walk a Mile in My Shoes program, prides itself on the impact its one-day training event has on those who attend. On Tuesday, about 400 community members, mostly teenagers, took part in a bowling event with about 70 police officers at the Astro Super Bowl.

“Both sides have been under so much stress and under so much pressure that it’s very hard for anyone to trust anyone,” Smith said. “’I don’t trust the police.’ And the police are like, ‘The community hates us.’ And then we do something like that, and both parties have fun, and they see each other having a good time.

Smith partners with local groups such as SA Rising Stars and the Police Union to implement the program. The police union presented SA Rising Stars INC with a check for $5,000 to help support more community events like this.

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Smith says the goal is to reach young people in communities where police interaction is often negative. But it also changes the minds of adults who may have had negative interactions as well.

Community member Diann Ross is honest when she says, “I really don’t like the police. But she said the event was an eye opener for her. Seeing and talking with agents and hearing about the obstacles they face made him change his mind.

“What I’ve done is say a personal thank you because we’ll give them heads, but we won’t say and acknowledge when someone does something positive. To the right? There are good ones, so thank you,” she said.

Smith said it was the first of many youth events planned for the summer. He is advocating for the city to fund a four-year pilot program to continue these community outreach events.

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