TAPS – A Perspective from Inside the Juvenile Facility
First, I want to thank Dr. Penn for bringing me on staff at TAPS Academy. Along with my co-worker Matthew Wilmaning, we are looking forward to the new school year at our HISD schools and the implementation of Senate Bill 30 in the Greater Houston area.
As a current Adjunct Professor at the University of Houston-Clear Lake and a prior manager/supervisor at Harris County Juvenile Probation Department (HCJPD), Youth Village, I had the privilege to witness at-risk teens/juveniles on their day-to-day struggles while being confined to a juvenile facility. On day 1 of the 11-week TAPS Academy curriculum, 20 young males are brought face to face with HPD officers. Being a public forum, I can’t tell our audience the fine words our at-risk juveniles had to say about our fine men and women in Blue. I’m just glad our officers had thick skin for the sticks and stones that were given on the first day and weeks to follow. As an officer stated during their first visit, “you might disrespect me now but by week 5, you will be giving me a high five and begging to attend your weekly TAPS class.”
As weeks went by, I started to see a change in several kids. The same ones that ridiculed HPD on Day 1, I heard them teaching each other the TAPS Creed. A certain juvenile stated, “Mr. Melchor, it’s Thursday, are we having TAPS?” Our young kids started sharing their trials and tribulations with our officers. They began to engage in conflict resolution on their own issues.
I enjoyed working at HCJPD Youth Village for the 11-week course in the spring and fall plus the TAPS Camp in the summer. To see young kids come together during this time-frame trying to make a change in their life but mostly, bridging the gap (social distance) between at risk teens and a police officer was rewarding to see.
For more information on TAPS please look around this website and visit our social media page: www.facebook.com/TAPSAcademy.