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Akron, Ohio

Akron PeaceMakers, the Akron Police Department, and the Akron Public Schools Kick-Off Informational Campaign: “You and the Law”

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City of Akron Press Release
From the desk of stephanie york
Published: 02-11-2015

          Today, Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic, the Akron PeaceMakers, the Akron Police Department (APD), and the Akron Public Schools (APS), announced a new collaborative campaign where Akron PeaceMakers will distribute “You and the Law” palm cards throughout Akron’s public and private middle and high schools.  These palm cards provide basic instructions and information to people on how to properly respond if they are approached or stopped by a police officer. 

            Akron PeaceMakers, Mayor Don Plusquellic’s civic anti-crime, anti-violence youth group, consists of around 100 diverse high school students. Billy Soule, Assistant to the Mayor for Community Relations who serves as the group’s advisor, and Willa Keith, retired Akron police sergeant, who serves as their liaison and coordinator, work with the PeaceMakers to perform hundreds of hours of community service, discuss timely and sometimes difficult issues facing the teens and the community, and problem-solve.

             “Prompted by recent police/citizen confrontations throughout the country, the Akron PeaceMakers decided they wanted to do something proactive in their community,” said Billy Soule, Assistant to the Mayor for Community Relations, and adviser to the PeaceMakers.  “The PeaceMakers all agreed that a palm card with simple instructions would help their peers, and others throughout Akron, make the right decisions and choices when approached or stopped by a police officer.” 

            “I admire these students because they are not only thinking of the tough issues, but they are acting to solve a very real problem.  Through these palm cards, the PeaceMakers are giving their peers and our citizens the information they need to react properly in what may be a very stressful situation to them,” said Mayor Don Plusquellic.  “I am proud of these students because they are giving back to their community and are good role models for all our students and citizens.”

            “We were excited that the PeaceMakers wanted to do this project with our input and help,” said Lieutenant Richard Edwards, Akron’s Police Information Officer.  “This palm card contains good information, and can guide all of our citizens on how to appropriately respond when you are approached by a police officer.”

            The final piece to the program was distribution.  To assure blanket distribution, the idea was taken to Akron Public Schools. Upon review, superintendent, David James, gave permission to allow the Akron PeaceMakers to place the “You and the Law” palm card in the hands of Akron students.  The palm cards will also be distributed by APD.

            With content from APD, design input by the PeaceMakers, and permission from APS to distribute in the schools, the program is ready for kick-off.

            The one hundred members of the Akron PeaceMakers will begin distributing the palm cards to their peers beginning next week.  Cards will go to all Akron middle and high schools; both public and private.  The Akron Police Department, along with the PeaceMakers, is developing a more in depth “You and the Law” companion booklet.  This booklet will be used during future youth and community group facilitations.  This booklet is projected to be ready this spring. 

            History of the Peacemakers:

            Under the direction of Mayor Plusquellic, who was interested in developing a youth anti-crime, anti-violence civic advisory council, Soule founded the City of Akron PeaceMakers in September of 2007.   

            The PeaceMakers Program starts off with an extensive Orientation in which students are taught how government works: the Mayor’s Office, City Council, Cabinet and city services.  They are introduced to community organizations and how to access services for family and friends.  Also, they learn about law enforcement.  Teens are informed on “You and the Law” by the Akron Police Department, and on other issues by Juvenile Court Judge, Linda Tucci Teodoseo, and representatives of the Victim Assistance program.

            The PeaceMakers meet regularly and provide hundreds of community service hours during their year-long program.

            Information on the palm card program will be posted on both websites: www.AkronCops.org and www.AkronPeaceMakers.org.   For more information on the Akron PeaceMakers call Willa Keith at 330-375-2716 or Billy Soule at 330-375-2660.  You may also contact Akron Police Community Relations at 330-375-2390.

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For further information, contact:
stephanie york
communications director
Phone: 330-375-2345
E-mail: [email protected]

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