Skateboarding is not a crime E-mail
Written by Mark Nichols   

There’s an infamous YouTube video of a cop and a group of kids on skateboards that’s a great example of how not to call attention to yourself and your agency. A much better approach can be found in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Officer Jenny Jenkins knows that skateboarders probably look at her with apprehension when she rolls up. It doesn’t take her very long to win the kids over.

"Truthfully, I grew up skateboarding so I don't have a problem with skateboarding at all," said Officer Jenny Jenkins of Harrisburg City Police Dept.  

That’s great news for Andrew Zapata. Like a lot of kids he likes to spend summer nights skating.

"I like to skate downtown with all of my friends," Zapata told reporters with local ABC affiliate WHTM. "We get kicked out all of the time."

He’s just two-years-old but he’s well aware of the fact that skateboarders and police officers aren’t exactly known for getting along.

Zapata and Officer Jenkins met in a mobile skate park. But it wasn’t Rob Dyrdek or Bam Margera that put the skate park together—it was the Harrisburg Police Athletic League and the JumpStreet Foundation.

The idea is simple. Give kids in tough neighborhoods without anything to do in the summer access to the skate park so they can avoid the kind of trouble that bumps up the crime rate every summer like clockwork.

"Our mission is crime prevention, a proactive tool to give them activities, so they don't commit crime," said Jenkins.  

Besides, any opportunity an agency gets to improve ties with kids in the communities they serve and protect is well worth taking.

Skate instructor Joe Corish says he’s seen the valuable relationships between kids and police grow as a result of the park.

"To know each other, and understand why they love skateboarding, and understand why we do what we do," said Corish.  

"It gives them a safe environment and keeps them off of doing bad stuff," Zapata said. "That's what I like about the skateboard. It keeps me off of bad stuff too."

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