DALLAS — Thousands of students across Dallas will be wrapping up classes in just a few weeks. Right now, the Dallas Police Department is working on a new plan to keep some of the teens off the streets by putting them to work.
"I see a lot of people hanging out," Officer Jerri Rowe said while walking along a street in South Dallas. The neighborhood police officer is in the community each day, engaging with residents.
"We have a lot of thefts, a lot of burglaries, and a lot of robberies in this area," Rowe said.
There is a big reason why Rowe, who is a mother of three, says she makes it a point to engage with teens while on patrol.
"When we're driving around the neighborhood, you'll see some just sitting here, hanging out with each other," Rowe said. "Not engaging themselves in anything productive."
With the end of the school year quickly approaching, exposing teens to options is becoming a major mission for the Dallas Police Department.
"It is in those moments of idle time that our youth can make decisions that can possibly impact their lives forever," Chief Renee Hall said.
On Tuesday, Hall announced DPD is partnering with Safer Dallas to launch the Dallas You(th) Summer Jobs Program.
"We want to give them opportunities,” Hall said.
The initiative will provide 50 jobs to 15-year-old students living near or attending Lincoln High School, Wilmer Hutchins High School, Bryan Adams High School, New Tech, South Oak Cliff High School and Spruce High School. The campuses were selected based on DPD data.
"It showed a higher than average crime stat in those areas,” Hall explained. “It also showed we arrested more youth between the ages of 14 and 18."
AT&T and The Mark Cuban Foundation are the founding sponsors for the initiative. Participating sponsors include Pepsi, Target, Imprimis Staffing, Flying Cross, Dallas ISD, Big brothers Big Sisters, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, Dallas Regional Chamber, Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas, City of Dallas Youth Commission and City of Dallas Parks and Recreation.
Some students say they believe the Dallas You(th) Summer Jobs Program could make a difference.
"They are often bored, and don't know what to do. So they often resort to other things," Fernanda Aguera said.
Teens chosen for the summer jobs program will work three days a week, with a variety of government, nonprofit and private firms.
"The youth is the main key here. We want to see them change. We want to see the arrests go down. We don't want to see them go up. We want to see huge, difference in our areas and in out zip codes," student Judith Gonzalez said.
Eligible students can learn more about the jobs programs with their school counselors.