By: Sami Edge – Seattle Times
August 17, 2015
In Naji Ibrahim’s Beacon Hill neighborhood, anyone who shows too much support for law enforcement is called an “opp.”
It’s short for “opposition,” a derogatory term for police, or those labeled as informants. Usually, it’s used in jest, but it’s still not a good thing to be called one in a neighborhood where many are distrustful of cops, says Ibrahim, 17.
So when he signed up for the Seattle Youth Employment Program, looking for a summer job, Ibrahim wasn’t expecting to find one with the Seattle Police Department. He definitely didn’t expect to enjoy it.
“I used to think cops were all violent,” said Ibrahim. “On TV you see things going on in other places, and it kind of rattles you. But when you’re working with them, they’re pretty cool.”
Ibrahim is one of 19 people ages 15-20 who were hired to work for SPD over the summer through the program, which employs low-income Seattle youth, mostly from minority backgrounds, in temporary positions in city departments or private-sector businesses.
In the past, SPD has employed only five young people, who spent the summer helping translate police documents into their native languages so they were accessible to minority communities.
This year, SPD added 14 more to their payroll as part of Mayor Ed Murray’s Summer Youth at Work Initiative, which doubled the jobs available through the program.
The new hires are all minorities — including Hispanic, East African and Asian backgrounds — and most are from South Seattle, according to Sgt. Adrian Diaz.
Their task: helping police find a way to better interact with youth.