A large number of AHS students list 'the police' as a problem.

Q: I teach at Ashland High School, and last year I had the students choose a problem that they feel Ashland has. A large number of them chose "the police" as a problem. They report being picked on, being singled out for traffic stops, being treated as guilty for no reason other than their age. Now, I don't know if their feelings accurately reflect reality, but they are their perceptions, for whatever reason. So my question is, what can the police department do or what do you do to improve relations with teens?

A: Not long after I received this question I was speaking with a teenager from Ashland who had approached me to speak about similar issues. This teenager asked if we had a minimum number of citations we had to issue (we don't) and said he, and his friends, felt picked on by APD. When asked to explain why, the teenager talked about minor in possession tickets and other violations they were mad about receiving.

I asked if the people receiving the citations had committed the offense and he admitted they did, but felt they should have been given warnings. The teenager then said that he liked one particular officer who had given him multiple warnings in the past for similar violations. Obviously, the warnings did not work as this teenager admitted he continued to "drink" saying, "Don't you guys remember being our age?"

While we may remember "being that age" the difference is that we are law enforcement officers, a key word being enforcement. Not many people, 13 or 30, enjoy receiving a citation or being arrested. We don't expect people to be happy with us but it is our job. Interesting to note is that after leaving the teenager he went into Safeway and was caught shoplifting. Sometimes feeling picked on is just being mad about getting caught.

It would be great to have a school resource officer. Unfortunately, at this time, there is not the funding or the staffing to support the position, though we have made a submission for grant money that would allow an officer to work one day a week in our schools. Hopefully in the future we will be given the opportunity for more positive interactions with the teenagers in Ashland, instead of only contacting them when they have committed a crime or violation.

Send your questions to Ask-Apd@ashland.or.us. Have information and don't want to talk to an officer? Call the APD Anonymous Tip Line at 541-552-2333