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Denver police push initiative to crack down on crime among high-risk youth at Denver Public Schools

Compassion Road Academy
Posted at 9:28 PM, Mar 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-03 23:28:17-05

DENVER — There's a new initiative cracking down on crime at Denver Public Schools.

The Denver Police Department has identified six schools where it will implement crime prevention and intervention programs among high-risk youth.

So far this year, two people in the city of Denver under the age of 25 were murdered. Denver PD says 12 people in that same age range have been injured in a shooting. Last year, 35 people under 25 were murdered, and 126 were injured in a shooting.

"I've been incarcerated three times, and the first time when I was 13," said Michael Brooks, now 20.

Brooks has a job, a girlfriend and one-year-old son Armani. He says life was much different back then.

"I was involved with gangs at the time," he said. "I was involved in grand theft auto, stealing cars, fights."

Brooks says growing up wasn't easy without his dad in the picture.

"I wasn't looking forward to anything in life. I didn't know what the future held for me," he said.

Senate Bill 22-145 established three grant programs in order to increase public safety. Denver PD is hoping to use a $1 million grant from the bill.

The initiative will focus on six DPS schools — Contemporary Learning Academy, Compassion Road Academy, Denver Justice High School, PREP Academy, Emily Griffith High School and Denver Center for 21stCentury Learning — that at the highest risk of students committing crimes or becoming victims of violence, according to officials.

"For those kids who are already justice involved, who are already in the criminal justice system, we want to provide navigation for them so that they understand the process they're going through and their families as well. And then we also want to work with violence interruptors," said Dr. Matt Lunn, director of strategic initiatives for the Denver Police Department.

Denver PD is teaming up with various community partners to provide high-risk youth the support they need. One of the partners is Tha Myx International, which focuses on keeping youth safe.

"So our biggest role is safety for individual youth, for entire school community and youth as they're leaving school and coming to school in the morning," said Joe Aragon, Tha Myx International CEO and pastor.

Aragon stepped in and helped Brooks when he was 13. The now 20-year-old is excited to watch Tha Myx International continue its work through this new initiative.

"Back then when I met Joe, I didn't ever think I'd have a family. I feel like it has a bigger impact on them," said Brooks.

The Denver City Council is expected to vote on the grant agreement Monday. If passed, Denver PD says the money can be used immediately and is good through June 2024.

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