AUSTIN (KXAN) — The “Us vs. Them” mentality is one that some Austin police officers and youth are working hard to break. For months now, Austin police along with teenagers from the African American Youth Harvest Foundation film crew have worked and produced two public service announcements that show different perspectives from both groups.
“[We’re] trying to make that understanding that [police] are humans first and they’re here to protect us,” says Charles Staten, Director of Media with the Harvest foundation. “And then for them to understand that we [the community] are humans and [officers] probably need to think first before any actions are taking place.”
The teenagers involved are part of a group called KREW 12, which focuses on film and video production. On the police side, members of Austin’s PAL group and Austin Cops for Charities also volunteered their time to make the projects happen.
“We had the idea of creating some public service announcements that would go out to the community and just to let them know where we come from in our perspective,” Officer Jeremy Bohannon said. “We started with discussions and we talked about our lives and we talked about their lives. It really just started with us coming around the table and having a good discussion, listening to each other and kind of figuring out where everybody is coming from.”
“My perspective has changed seeing that police are not how they seem,” Sarah Robertson, a 13-year-old member of KREW 12 said. “There are some really nice police officers and I hope young people realize that too, it’s not only this one-way thing, there are multiple people who are actually genuinely nice people.”
One PSA focuses on how the teens think police officers think in terms of protecting the community:
The other PSA focused on how minority teens sometimes view officers:
Officers say they hope these videos help change perspectives and break stereotypes.
“They see the uniform and they forget that there are hearts beating behind that and there are people who are affected by everything that’s going on in society. But we also have to put her uniform on and protect and serve the community,” Ofc. Bohannon said.
The teenagers working on the project say they too have a message.
“For the “us versus them,” I hope that we can come together and figure out a solution for everybody to have fair rights with the police and the community,” Robertson said. “If I have kids, I want them to feel safe, I want everybody to feel safe.”
The two groups are working on several more projects including a short film they hope to enter in a film festival.