By laying a solid foundation for Trenton's young people through meaningful opportunities and diversion, we can make our young people feel valued and better supported for success. There is no substitute for entirely investing in the education of our children. Historically, Trenton has not prioritized education funding and hadn't utilized what was passed in the most effective ways to benefit students.
Provide Quality Mentorship to Our Young People
Mentoring a young person has a positive impact on their life. Young people with mentors are less likely than their peers to engage in dangerous behavior. They are also more likely to enroll in college and hold leadership positions. I've been a mentor and the beneficiary of mentorship. I know the difference it can make in a young person's life.
Despite the evidence about mentoring's impact, hundreds of young Trentonians are on a list and just waiting for someone to mentor them. As Councilman, I will work with fellow councilmembers and the Mayor to focus on getting quality mentors for young people in neighborhoods most impacted by gun violence. I will also ensure organizations providing mentorship services have the support and funding they need.
Build a Public Safety Cadet-Community Policing Program
In Trenton, we have high school students interested in public safety careers with no clear pathway to those careers. Our police department needs more homegrown recruits who understand our city's challenges. As Councilman, I will support and lead the expansion of cadet programs in our public safety agencies by allocating the funding to hire local high school graduates each year. I will develop a plan with our schools to ensure these students can set out on these careers while completing their schooling. Trenton students who express an interest in public safety should have a direct pathway to those careers.
Adopting restorative justice approaches in our schools will reduce recidivism and promote healing in communities most impacted by crime and violence cycles. As Councilman, I will support the implementation of restorative justice circles in our public schools because our youth deserve second chances and the opportunity to build conflict resolution skills. Therapeutic justice programs have already shown promise in schools in inner urban areas because they divert our young people from formal disciplinary action and the juvenile justice system. Therapeutic Justice programs improve communication and conflict resolution skills to foster greater understanding, rather than punishment or a disciplinary record. These highly-structured and mediated discussions between parties can facilitate understanding and give way to a path forward.