The Maricopa Police Department rolled out a youth-led intervention group on Oct. 3 at City Hall.
Mary Witkofski, Community Programs Manager with the police department, said MPD is the first law enforcement agency in the nation to implement the program as part of the Valley-based group Bloom365.
The MPD BloomCrew is made up of five local youth facilitators and eight adult mentors. The group provides peer-to-peer counseling, education and advocacy to teens while also promoting “smart choice in friendships and dating,” Witkofski said.
Mayor Price introduced the group during a city council meeting last week after he proclaimed October Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Witkofski recognized Against Abuse Inc. and Eve’s Place as long-term service providers.
The BloomCrew will kick off its first community event Oct. 21 with a glow-stick party for children 10 to 13 years old inside Copper Sky Recreation Center from 3 to 6 p.m. The free event will feature games about healthy relationships, prizes, food and music DJ’d by the Be Awesome Youth Coalition.
According to a report by Bloom365, 1 in 3 teens will experience dating abuse.
Maricopa Community Alliance Against Substance Abuse Program Director Priscilla Behnke, said tweens are not too young to learn about domestic violence.
“It’s really the time they are coming into their own,” Behnke said. “They are starting to develop autonomy and they want relationships outside that nuclear family and if they don’t know what a healthy relationship looks like they are not going to start adopting healthy relationships.”
The MPD BloomCrew will visit Sequoia Pathway Academy junior high students on Oct. 23 and will later attend a youth girls’ symposium for junior high students in the Maricopa Unified School District on Oct. 25.
In September, over half of the 96 contacts MPD Victim Assistance Program had with victims were “domestic and family violence related,” according to the most recent weekly report by City Manager Gregory Rose.
To contact a victim advocate call 520-316-6800.