SAN FRANCISCO—Officers from the San Francisco Police Department will participate in a four-day Policing the Teen Brain train-the-trainer session starting May 29 and running until Friday, June 1 at the San Francisco Scottish Rite Masonic Center. According to the SFPD website, the training was developed by Strategies for Youth (SFY), which aims to improve interaction between law enforcement and youth, provide officers a better understanding of the development of the teen brain and thought processes and provide tactics for deescalating interactions and aim to avoid the use of force.

An primary goal of the training is to help officers be aware of and address disproportionate minority contact and reduce the arrests of youth demonstrating mental health issues.

“We look to this unique program as a step toward enhancing our work with youth,” said SFPD Chief William Scott.  “Through this training, we hope to offer officers new skills for interacting with youth, give them a better understanding of why youth behave the way they do and strengthen officers’ relationships with young people in San Francisco.”

The San Francisco Youth Commission and the Department of Police Accountability lobbied for the training for the past 8 years and were instrumental in getting the course to the SFPD.

“As a chartered city body, the Youth Commission is in a unique position to hear the concerns of youth across San Francisco,” said Kiely Hosmon, Director of the San Francisco Youth Commission. “Youth in our city have expressed concerns regarding their interactions with law enforcement officers, and we are hopeful this training will help improve relationships between youth and police.”

The Policing the Teen Brain training includes a psychologist specializing in adolescent development to clarify normative development for youth, mental health issues prevalent among teens and the impacts of trauma on police/youth interactions.

The newly trained officers will present the SFY curriculum on demographic and cultural factors affecting police/youth interactions, as well as changes in juvenile laws affecting officers’ provision of Miranda protections.  The SFY training includes youth who will partake in skits and dialogues with the officers. Leaders of youth-serving programs will highlight community-based services and alternatives to arrest.

“We are delighted that the SFPD is committed to equipping its officers with skills and best practices for working effectively with youth,” said Lisa H. Thurau, Executive Director at Strategies for Youth.

Funding for the training is provided by the Zellerbach Family Foundation. Strategies for Youth is a national non-profit training and policy organization dedicated to improving police/youth interactions and decreasing disproportionate minority contact.  Strategies for Youth has worked law enforcement agencies across the country. For more details about Strategies for Youth, contact Lisa Thurau at (617) 513-8366.