HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — A local police department is using a unique approach to keep young people out of trouble — music.
The Hampton Police Division recently wrote and edited a music video in hopes of curbing youth violence.
“We want to make a difference,” Corporal Mary Shackleford said. “We want them to recognize that they do have choices.”
Hampton officers said the video is aimed at getting kids to think twice about joining gangs or about picking up a gun.
“Obviously, we want to keep guns out of youths’ hands,” Shackleford said. “Unfortunately, we did see an uptick in youth violence out of 21 homicides last year, 14 of them centered around youth being a victim or a suspect.”
So far this year there have been five homicides in the city, one involving 17-year-old Andonus Turner.
Shackelford said the video also tries to change the image some young people have of police: “There are many officers who take the opportunity to mentor these young people, and they follow them from when they are in elementary school to the time they graduate.”
10 On Your Side took the video to the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Virginia Pennisula to see if kids would get the message. 13-year-old Zyuana Laguerre saw the video and said it made her think differently about police officers.
“Most people think that cops are bad,” Laguerre said. “There are actually some good cops out there that actually want to make a difference.”
“I think by the police department being involved with this, they show the kids they are just one of them and they are their friend,” said Steve Kast, President, Boys & Girls Club of the Virginia Peninsula. “They are not someone just coming by to lock them up or talk to their parents about something that has gone wrong.”
The video debuted Friday and has already garnered more than 106,000 views on YouTube and 1,000 shares on Facebook. The video is also part of Hampton’s long-term youth violence initiative called ‘ Safe and Clean’.