Teens in Lakeland are invited to the Lakeland Police Department’s first Peace Teen Summit at 9 a.m. on Friday, July 30. The morning-long summit at Lake Mirror Auditorium is geared to those ages 13 to 18 in an effort to enhance communication with law enforcement and improve race relations, said Police Chief Ruben Garcia. 

“We want our community members of all ages to have the opportunity to meet face to face with our team members, ask questions and gain an understanding of police procedures and why they are important,” Garcia said. 

A representative of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives is one of the guest speakers, and presentations will be focused on helping youth better understand local, state and federal laws. 

Participants also will have an opportunity to talk one-on-one with police officers. 

“This will also allow our officers to hear from the young members of our community and listen to their concerns and understand their perceptions of law enforcement today,” Garcia said. 

Terry Coney, president of the Lakeland branch of the NAACP, said this event will be helpful for the community and he is hopeful other events, including one geared toward youths in the Police Athletic League, also will be planned. 

“This event is important because it gives young people a chance to express their thoughts on what’s going on, and what’s important to them, give their view of things happening locally, in the state, and nationally,” Coney said. “As adults, we sometimes think we have all the answers, but don’t really know the questions that teenagers have.”

This event is supports long-term efforts by the City of Lakeland, Lakeland Police Department and community leaders to improve race relations and racial equality in Lakeland.

The event is free and takes place at the Lake Mirror Auditorium, 121 S. Lake Ave. Lunch will be provided. Masks are encouraged. Parents are also welcome to attend. Doors open at 8 a.m. for registration. 

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