WESTPORT, Conn. Teenagers and cops getting together for dinner is not a common sight, but thats exactly what happened Monday night in Westport during the second Cop Shop event at Toquet Hall.
Hosted by the Westport Police-Youth Collaborative, Cop Shops are informal, roundtable discussions between police officers and youths during which teens are encouraged to ask officers anything that comes to mind, said Elaine Daignault, coordinator of Westport Youth Services.
Underage drinking was the focus of Mondays forum. Over dinner, students asked alcohol-related questions and learned about Connecticuts underage drinking laws from some of Westports finest. Students from Staples High School experienced what its like to be intoxicated by putting on a pair of Fatal Vision goggles, which uses a special lens to simulate impairment.
The Westport Police-Youth Collaborative is a partnership of Westport kids, the Department of Human Services and the Westport Police Department.
The group's focus is to foster respect and understanding between cops and kids in town by creating opportunities for them to plan and implement programs which they believe will help foster communication and build trust with one another, Daignault said.
Regularly scheduled Cop Shops will return in the fall. Until then, cops and teens will have another opportunity to hang out and get to know each other better Saturday during the Volleyball Smackdown Tournament.
Cops and students will team up during the tournament. This event, hosted by the Westport Youth Commission, coincides with the annual Castles in the Sand benefit at Compo Beach. Both events benefit Westports Homes with Hope, a nonprofit that assists the homeless.
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