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Youth bridging the gap

Ben Godar

A group of Burbank teenagers are looking to improve the relationship

between young people and police officers by taking to the public

access airwaves.

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The teens recently completed taping the third episode of “Teen

Street Beat,” a police-oriented talk show hosted by young people that

airs on Burbank TV6. The idea for the show grew out of the city’s

2001 youth summit, when poor communication with police was identified

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as a problem by local teens.

Alex Safarian, one of nine Burbank youths who produce the show,

said when teens see police on television they are almost always

arresting people. He also said teens that do have run-ins with police

often present a distorted account of those events.

“It gets exaggerated as it gets passed on from teen to teen and

you get a biased perception of police officers,” he said.

“Teen Street Beat” seeks to give young people a look at some of

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the more positive activities police are part of, organizers said. In

one episode, the show featured the summer youth academy hosted by the

department, while in another Police Chief Tom Hoefel was interviewed.

After a somewhat erratic schedule since the first show was taped

in April, Safarian said they hope to produce a new episode each

month.

While he acknowledged most teens don’t spend a lot of time

watching public access television, Safarian said he hopes the

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personal connection will draw them in.

“If kids in school with us see us on television they might stop

and watch and pick up on what we’re talking about,” he said.

Linda Maxwell, co-founder of Glendale- based We Care for Youth, is

one of the two adults who work with the teens. In addition to the

benefits for those watching the broadcasts, she said creating the

shows is a great experience for those involved.

“The beauty of it is that the kids gain the experience of having

their voices heard,” she said. “It’s a real powerful experience for

all of them.”


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