The long arm of the law is stretching into the community to teach skills and break down barriers.
That’s especially true of PC Kyp Kyriacou, a safer schools officer in Southwark, dubbed The Slam Dunking Officer. That’s because he used to be a professional basketball player after growing up playing it on the street in Park Hill, Croydon.
He works at South Bank University Academy of Engineering in Trafalgar Road, and Ark Walworth Academy in Shorncliffe Road.
PC Kyriacou, who previously worked on the response team in Brixton before becoming a schools officer, said: “Where I grew up there was a lot of knife crime. You would hear about stabbings. Working in response, I had a really great time – but you’re showing up and it’s already happened.
“I’m really passionate about crime prevention and making sure people know they have other opportunities and not just gangs. Growing up around that kind of stuff really makes you see it.
“Young people often don’t see behind the uniform, and it’s not cool to like the police. When I started going into schools, the kids were wondering why there were police in schools, and assumed I was there to arrest people, or stop and search, and they don’t realise that we’re here so they have someone to turn to for help.
“I didn’t realise how important sports could be to engage with people as an icebreaker. The kids would see the police uniform and say – you can’t dunk, you’re a police officer. Then they see you do it, and they see you in a different light, it just changes everything. They see you as a person, and it makes you approachable, so they begin to ask questions.
“I think having that rapport with the youth is so important, because when you’re young, people can do silly things and take the wrong paths.
“I hope that now the children feel like there is less of a barrier between us and them, and they will feel comfortable to turn to the police and ask for help and support, instead of taking things into their own hands.
“Working with the kids on the camp has definitely had an impact, I’ve bumped into some of the kids since, and they’ve stop to say hi, and tell me things that have happened that they said they would only speak to me about.”
PC Kyp is one of the officers from the Central South Metropolitan Police force who have using their skills to engage young people before they fall into self-destructive habits.
Source: London News Online