Hampton, Va. - Over the past month, more than a dozen teens in Hampton have become either the victims or suspects of crimes.
To combat some of the youth violence, the Hampton Police Department has a new game plan to mentor and build relationships with kids in the community.
They’ve started taking kids from various organizations, such as the Boys and Girls Club, to FedEx Field to see the Redskins play.
“It was a phenomenal experience. Some of those boys had never been out of Lincoln Park,” said Cpl. Mary Shackelford, “Their eyes get just as big as saucers when they walk in and see how grand that stadium is.”
The goal is to mentor kids at an early age and build better relationships with officers.
“If there’s something we can do as the police division, as a community, to help these young men and women to maybe take another path, take a few seconds before they make the wrong choice, then we're willing to do that,” said Cpl. Shackelford.
The Hampton Police Dept. has been making a big push with their "Stop the Violence - Don't be a Statistic" campaign, and it was after learning about it that Redskins team owner Dan Snyder offered the tickets.
Organizations like the Y.H. Thomas Community Center in Hampton have helped police find kids who want to go.
They can see first-hand the difference it makes by spending time with the officers.
“It’s just astounding in how the comfort level changes as the hours went by and the trip gets a little longer, I’m just Mary Beth. That’s who I am to them,” said Cpl. Shackelford.
It also helps getting to see some of their role models up close.
“That’s definitely motivational for those young people. They may not want to be athletes, but they still can use that as motivation to reach for their goals and work hard to get there,” said Synethia White, Executive Director of the Y.H. Thomas Community Center.
Officers are able to take kids as tickets are made available from the Redskins.
The next game they’re going to is Thursday when the Redskins take on the Giants.
Two officers and staff members from the Boys and Girls Club will be taking four kids to the game.