BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Tensions between city police and some young people are real. But one teacher at The Crossroads School has an idea on how to get past those divisions. She’s using the ancient practice of yoga, and the element of surprise.
In Emily Fleming’s 7th grade yoga class, students sit on the floor, shoes-off.
And if you look carefully among the young girls, boys and mats you’ll also see uniforms.
This semester, five police officers from the southeast district joined the class.
At first they came in sweats, and the students just thought they were nice adults.
Then one day, they walked in in uniform.
“I thought they were like people who worked like in the office,” student Reagan Jennings told WJZ’s Denise Koch.
“They were in shock,” BPD Officer Lynea Wiley said. “It was priceless to be honest with you when they walked in the door.”
But by then, friendships had developed.
“The idea was just to improve relationships and to have students and officers get to know each other as people,” according to Fleming.
And it worked.
“I learned that not every cop is bad,” student Brandon Waller said. “You know, you have a lot of good cops out here.”
“You get to know someone for who they are, not what they are,” Jennings said. “They’re very friendly.”
Officer Juan Minaya says he’s made from friends.
“Every time they see me they give me a big smile and a big handshake. So. It’s very awesome.”
The Crossroads School is one of the few schools that actually has yoga as a class. The students get homework and they get graded.
The officers met with them in the class twice a week all fall.
“I’ll never forget the children that I had,” Officer Wiley said. “We looked forward to coming here.”
Some of the officers said they will continue with practicing yoga even though their time in the class is up.