The 'Bigs In Blue' programs hopes to bridge the divide between young people who are leery of police officers and the men and women in blue.
The Big Brothers Big Sisters program hopes to attract more law enforcement personnel, who can teach valuable lessons to Omaha’s youth.
Omaha Police Officer Karl Girard and 13-year-old Eric have been together for over 4-years. Hanging out and learning from one another through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.
Monday afternoon the Eric and Girard hope to lead by example for others to join in the 'Bigs In Blue' program.
“I have a new name for me and him, it's called 'the perfect match',” said Eric.
This perfect match is a prime example of what the Big Brothers Big Sisters program is striving to do.
“Usually when I do something bad, he usually talks to me about it, tells me not to do it again, and what I can learn from those mistakes,” said Eric.
“I try and take him out into the community and try and obviously things he would like but some things that would help him on later in life,” said Officer Girard.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is starting a national campaign called 'Bigs in Blue' trying to pair more law enforcement officers with kids like Eric who need a mentor hoping to help improve police-community relations.
“This is a great chance for youth and communities to see officers out of uniform doing something in the community and it's a chance for officers to know the families in the communities they are serving.
For Girard-he sees how being a mentor in a child's life can help them-and hopefully more children in Omaha can have someone in law enforcement they can look up to.
“As a police officer I run into children, adults that don't have the greatest circumstances don't have the greatest times in their lives, so it's just nice to hang out with the kid,” said Girard.
For Eric, he had a different view of police officers until he got to know officer Girard.
“We'll at least I learned that he's not mean-that's one thing. He's a calm guy,” said Eric.
It’s changing minds like Eric's that in the long-run can change attitudes, even if it's one bowling trip at a time.
“He recognizes that police officers are people too and he has a successful future,” said Girard.
The local chapter of Big Brother Big Sisters said they have about a dozen or so law enforcement personnel involved in the program but gladly welcomes many more.