On a Tuesday night in June, a group of Coon Rapids cops, in t-shirts, played a pick-up game of touch football together with a group of teenagers behind Coon Rapids High School. It was part of a mentorship program the Coon Rapids Police Department launched this past spring with Coon Rapids High School called 'Cops and Cardinals.'
Police sergeant and organizer Gregg Nordby says It's a way for officers to identify students who could use support and reach out to them on a personal level.
"The core goal of this program is to identify those students and try to change their life around and give them positive role models to try to intervene and make sure that they have a good performance in life," Nordby said.
The group does one activity a month which includes sharing a meal together. It's a much different view of cops for many, like high school senior Damont Jones.
"I've been in an encounter where police have been disrespectful, cursing at me or telling me like disrespectful things,” Jones said. “And it really just tarnished the way I looked at them. But then I joined their program and ever since I've always looked at cops with better ways now."
The program offers one on one mentoring, which has opened doors for senior Aloysius Nyapan.
"I like because it really builds a like community bond with these officers and the kids," Nyapan said.
This fall, the Coon Rapids Police Department plans to expand the program for both male and female students at Coon Rapids High School. If you would like to find out more about the ‘Cops and Cardinals’ mentorship program, email Sergeant Gregg Nordby.