Police have a new tool in their efforts to mentor Los Angeles youth: minibikes.
The Los Angeles Police Department demonstrated its new program "National Youth Project Using Minibikes'' Saturday at the off-road training course of the LAPD Davis Training Academy in Granada Hills, officials said.
Officers at the LAPD's Valley Traffic Division plan to mentor youth ages 10 through 17 by teaching them to ride minibikes as a way of teaching them to overcome their daily challenges, LAPD officials said. It is seen as a way to help youth develop self-confidence, decision making, teamwork, risk management and other valuable life skills.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for LAPD to further strengthen our relationships with our communities and provide a positive experience for our youth," Captain Andrew Neiman of the Valley Traffic Division said.
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Valley Traffic motor Officer Steve Carbajal was the driving force behind the LAPD's involvement in the program, Neiman said.
"When I was a kid, one of my friends invited me to go dirt bike riding with his family and I was hooked," Carbajal said. "In fact, once I started riding dirt bikes it changed my entire outlook on everything, and it definitely motivated me to do what I love with the LAPD," he said. Carbajal isa member of the LAPD's Off-Road Unit.
The program is made possible by a grant from the California Office of Transportation Safety and funding from the Los Angeles Police Foundation, officials said.
Officers have implemented the program on their days off.