Tampa PD pilot program aims to help local teens land summer jobs

The Tampa Police Department launched a new pilot program Monday that aims to open doors for teens across the city hoping to land summer jobs.

At Middleton High School in East Tampa, a group of students are learning skills normally not taught in the classroom. 

It is a new pilot program launched by the department called, "Shielding Our Teens." Over the next three weeks, officers will mentor the group of 30 with the goal of helping them land a summer job.

"It’s to give them life experience and open up a lot of opportunities for them to grow and be successful," said Tampa Police Corporal Rose Angelakopoulos.

The officers will guide the teens through the application process and give interview techniques. The students will receive business attire, even a necktie tutorial, if necessary.

"And then, during the third week, we're actually going to bring the employers to the school to hopefully get them hired on the spot," Angelakopoulos said.

This trial run includes teens at two other schools across TPD’s three districts. Building positive relationships with the police and affecting the youths in a positive way.

"This is going to build that relationship that we really need because we need to have jobs for these kids in the summertime," said Hillsborough County School Board Vice Chair Henry "Shake" Washington. "So that keeps them out of doing some things they shouldn't be doing."

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Since 2013, the number of juveniles getting arrested by TPD has been on the decline. Reducing the amount of youths in trouble with the law is one of TPD’s key goals.

"There is gun violence every single day, every single week that we're seeing out in the community, hearing from our own kids as well," said Carlos Valdes, Executive Director of AMIkids Tampa.

The non-profit is committed to helping teens find their potential and obtain the tools they need to succeed. Valdes said the entire city should be focused on the needs of the next generation, and breaking the cycle of violence on the streets.

"Being able to provide them with some type of platform to be able to get them ready for the workforce and have some change in their pocket is significant," he said. "A lot of the things that our kids are doing nowadays is because they have so much time in their hands or because they are doing things illegally to be able to provide for their own and their loved ones."

Students who complete the Shielding Our Teens program will also receive scholarship opportunities through TPD's non-profit, Rise Tampa.