At-risk teens help police patrol their neighborhoods

Two thousand at-risk teenagers were sworn in Tuesday to the Colombian police’s “Promotores de Vida” program, aimed at offering youths a better future in exchange for helping the police in their impoverished neighborhoods, reports El Colombiano.

The young police recruits, who will not carry weapons or ride in police cars, will patrol their local areas “with a community, ecological, and social focus, aimed at improving the well-being of their neighborhoods,” General Luis Aberto Perez said, adding that in addition to promoting security in Colombia’s increasingly dangerous cities, it is a professional opportunity for the young people of Colombia.

The program, which incorporates underprivileged teenagers who are mainly from Bogota, Medellin, and Cali, stems from a 2009 proposal by President Alvaro Uribe, who called for at-risk youths to serve in the police force while they are studying in high school or enrolled in government-run technical training schools.

“This is a great opportunity that fills me with pride, because in addition to working for the people of my neighborhood, I will be able to study and prepare myself professionally,” said Humberto Gomez, one of the 781 new recruits from Medellin.

The students, who will undergo three months of intensive training prior to starting work on September 1, will not by charged with going after criminals or assassins, but with working for their communities and educating them about social issues and peace.

In exchange for their service, the students are waived from having to serve in Colombia’s military.

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