Portland's top cop talks police violence with kids

Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw speaks to students at Saint Andrew Nativity School in Northeast Portland Thursday. (KATU Photo)

Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw was hoping to do a little public relations work when she dropped by Saint Andrew Nativity School in Northeast Portland Thursday.

"I want them to feel comfortable enough to call us when they need to. Hopefully, they will never need to," said Outlaw. "It's also important for them to know that we’re human beings just like them, and we’re not something they need to be afraid of."

While she was talking to the 11 to 14 year olds about her job, the kids put her skills to the test.

They wanted to know why police shot and killed Patrick Kimmons about a month ago, and why the cops weren't punished for that.

This week a grand jury decided the two officers who shot Kimmons nine times, according to the autopsy reports, did not use excessive force.

The grand jury reviewed surveillance video and eyewitness testimony to come to its conclusion.

While they can be hard to answer, Outlaw says she was glad the kids were asking the tough questions.

"I welcome questions. I want us to be challenged. It makes me feel good and makes me feel proud that they’re asking the questions," said Outlaw. "They truly are our future leaders, and if we’re not taking the time to embrace and foster them now, what will we expect of them when it's time for them to take the reins."

Sonya Strickland is a counselor at Saint Andrew Nativity School, and was not surprised at all that the kids were confident enough to ask the chief about what was on their minds.

"We encourage them to be critical thinkers," said Strickland. "If they can’t talk to adults about it, then their under-developed brain is trying to figure it out, or they’re talking to other people their age who aren’t any more equipped to help with suggestions and that sort of thing anyway."

Strickland says it's best to be open and honest with kids when they have questions, while the subjects may be hard to talk about, if it's out in the open, it's easier to deal with.

At nearby Alberta Park, Anne Rock was with her 1-year-old daughter, a long way from middle school, but she's already thinking about how she'll answer questions from her kid.

"It's important to be age-appropriate, yes, but it's really important to know your child and make adjustments that way. Nobody knows your kid better than you," said Rock.

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