Program created to bridge gap between at-risk youth and police

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) The city of Fort Wayne on Monday announced the implementation of a community awareness program designed to enhance relationships and partnerships among community organizations, law enforcement and youth.

Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry and officials from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Northeast Indiana, Fraternal Order of Police and Fort Wayne UNITED came together Monday to unveil Blue Bucket Brigade. The program will aim to “open doors and build bridges” for families and at-risk youth in the Fort Wayne community by providing positive activities and mentoring.

“We have to get interaction without being something negative and I think once they do that they’ll see the human side of the uniform,” Boys and Girls Club of Northeast Indiana CEO Joe Jordan said.

Joe Jordan with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Fort Wayne announces the Blue Bucket Brigade initiative on Monday, March 20, 2017.

“A collective effort to bring the community together is another example of Fort Wayne’s commitment to providing opportunities and making a meaningful difference,” said Henry. “I continue to be encouraged by the proactive response to meeting challenges in Fort Wayne. It’s a clear demonstration of why we’re seeing positive momentum and investments throughout our City.”

Blue Bucket Brigade will begin through programming similar to offerings provided by Fort Wayne UNITED, an initiative pushed by Henry that is designed to enhance opportunities, advance youth advocacy, and help ensure the safety of all residents with a focus on black men and boys.

“It’s really good for us to start early to start addressing those things and not addressing them from a confrontational perspective but from a positive perspective. A postive presentation makes a whole lot of difference,” Fort Wayne United Executive Director Iric Headley said.

To benefit the newly created program, police officers and Boys and Girls Clubs members will collect donations through the use of blue buckets in high traffic retail and business locations throughout Allen County from mid-May through Labor Day. They will also be at community events, the city said.

Proceeds from Blue Bucket Brigade will benefit programming and activities developed and implemented by the Boys and Girls Clubs and Fraternal Order of Police.

“Everyone in our community must wrap their arms around our most vulnerable children. When children feel safe, protected and cared for, they are best able to become the productive citizens we all want them to be,” said Jordan. “It is vital to the future of our community to reconnect our most vulnerable children to our most trusted servants and reestablish mutual respect and understanding and encourage positive lifelong relationships.”

The program has been getting national attention.

“They’ve been calling us and coming to Fort Wayne and wanting to take a lot of what we’ve been offering our young people back to their community and we’re getting more and more attention on a national basis,” Mayor Tom Henry said about other communities.