The San Antonio Area Foundation (SAAFdn) is bringing to our city for the first time an innovative national program focused on reducing tension and increasing understanding between law enforcement and youth in our community.

SAAFdn, in conjunction with its community outreach fund, the San Antonio Area African American Community Fund (SAAAACF), announce a new partnership with the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) for the inaugural local rollout of Juvenile Justice Jeopardy (JJJ).

“We’re all for finding new and engaging ways to improve understanding between our youth and law enforcement officers,” said Bobby Blount, Jr., Chairman of the SAAAACF Board of Directors. “We’re confident this will become a highly educational tool toward strengthening that relationship.”

The concept is simple yet effective – modeled after the popular TV gameshow, youth test and improve their knowledge through a series of questions on the legal consequences of risky conduct and behavior and best practices when interacting with police. Questions were designed to reflect the particular challenges and opportunities in San Antonio. Topics covered by the game include the rules of the juvenile justice system, rights and obligations when interacting with law enforcement, prevalent youth offenses in San Antonio and the consequences of court involvement. 

The program is built and organized by Strategies for Youth (SFY), a national training and policy nonprofit dedicated to improving police/youth interactions through a series of programs such as JJJ. “The consequences and the terribly high human price of negative interactions between police and youth are well-documented,” said Lisa Thurau, SFY Executive Director. “Juvenile Justice Jeopardy is all about engaging youth, in a neutral space, to talk about how they understand how the legal system will respond to behaviors.” 

Reaching mutual understanding between officers and the community they serve is at the core law enforcement’s mission to protect and serve. That’s why a program like JJJ not only helps youngsters better understand where police are coming from – but vice-versa as well.

“Engaging with the youth on the law and the juvenile justice system is not only an important first step to raising awareness but also a crucial catalyst for prevention and long-lasting change,” said SAPD Chief William McManus.

Both SAAFdn and SAAAACF see JJJ as a unique opportunity to make San Antonio a national standard-bearer on police/community relations.

“We want to do our part to close opportunity gaps for those who need it the most,” explained Patricia Mejia, SAAFdn’s Vice President of Community Engagement and Impact. “The JJJ program directly targets critical communication gaps that can quite literally help save lives.”

More details about the new San Antonio JJJ program will be shared at a news conference and live program demonstration on May 31 at 10:45 a.m. at Marshall Law and Medical Services High School, 8000 Lobo Lane, San Antonio, TX 78240. Media are invited to attend.