Perry police detective deters gang violence by mentoring
Detective Thomas Daly is a mentor for a group of fifth graders at Morningside Elementary School. He has lunch with the boys every Friday. The group, which started with six students, has grown to nearly 20.
The detective was invited by the school’s principal, Pat Witt, to speak with some fifth grade students about their plans to start a gang.
“She asked me to meet with a group of young men, who were having a little difficulty,” said Daly. “They were trying to form a gang and she wanted me to come in and talk to them about where that would lead or evolve into and I said yes.”
During their lunch sessions, Daly says he encourages the students to make good grades and to be mindful of their behavior while at school. They talk about things going on at school, home and, in their neighborhoods.
The school’s principal says she wants her students to respect authority inside and outside the classroom.
“Many of our boys and girls only see officers when they come knocking on the front door of their home, or perhaps when their vehicle is pulled over by the side of the road,” said Witt. “What we want our boys and girls to connect with is that officers are their friends.”
The seven year veteran Perry police officer and the school’s principal say they have seen a big difference in the boys grades and their behavior since the mentoring program began in august.
Daly says he has only missed two Fridays since the mentoring program began in August. He admits he has learned from his students while mentoring them.
“They’ve shared a lot of experiences with me. I’ve helped them with some of their problems and in turn they’ve actually helped me become a better person.”