Three Boston “police officers” were on their knees, hands behind their heads, as teenagers screamed orders at them, then pretended to put pepper spray in their faces after they were handcuffed. To the teens playing police yesterday at a local high school, the skit showed real life on their streets. Teens and real police officers gathered in a classroom just hours after the funeral for a 17-year-old boy who was shot to death by another teen.
Yesterday’s role playing was the first of eight sessions, funded by Children’s Hospital, that bring together about 30 students with local actors, Boston police, parents, and teachers. The collaborative is one of the city’s efforts as officials brace for the typically high-crime summer months — and hope to avoid a repeat of last year. In 2004, the city recorded 64 homicides, the most in all but one year since 1996. Of the victims, 18 were teenagers, and six were under age 16. Asked about the first thought that enters their mind when an officer approaches them on the street, one student replied, “Uh, oh.” Another student said, “I try not to look into their eyes.”