A new tool has been added to the arsenal of Omaha police, a national mentoring program called the OK Program where African-American police officers mentor young African-American males who are at high risk for going to jail or being a victim of crime.
Organizers say a big part of the mentoring program is to change minds and attitudes. “Black men have more influence on black boys than anyone in the country,” says the program’s Donald Northcross. “What the OK Program does is we recruit black men to take that responsibility, we train them how to do it."
Officer Antwone Finch is a six-year police veteran. Many times he has had to deal with young African-American men in a negative light. "The kids are dealing with hard times with single parents, a lot of fathers are outside of the home so they don’t have direction, no male role models, no role models to give them what they need. Bring a man back into the home so they can see what it takes to be a man."
Officer Finch traveled to Little Rock, Arkansas for OK Program training and hopes to teach the young men how to be better men, how important it is to stay in school and how to give and earn respect.
“A lot of male juveniles in north Omaha have a problem with the police, but this gets us back in touch with police and the community. We get to know male juveniles and they get to know the police department.”