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Phoenix Police To Use Cars To Build Relationships, Careers

(Photo by Christina Estes - KJZZ)
DRAGG Phoenix is a new program designed to provide high school students with alternatives to a life of gangs and graffiti.

A new program is in the works to improve relationships between Phoenix police and high school students that can also prepare young people for careers in the automotive industry.

It’s referred to as "DRAGG," and it stands for "Drag Racing Against Gangs and Graffiti." Police officers, teachers and automotive professionals will work with about 30 students during the afterschool program. The 32-week curriculum will blend car repair and customization. DRAGG started in Oxnard, California, where Jeri Williams was police chief before returning to Phoenix last year to lead the force.

“It was a really good program,” she told a city subcommittee in September. “And, a really good way to connect the automotive industry and students altogether. And the graduations are amazing. The kids just light up when they can show you what they built.”

Williams said one full-time officer will oversee the program. The Phoenix Police Foundation will raise money to cover other costs. Students who complete the program can earn high school and community college credits. It’s expected to launch in the Phoenix Union High School District next year.

According to a city report, DRAGG Phoenix students will also participate in community outreach and volunteer projects. For example, students will use their new skills to complete minor repairs on a donated vehicle and then select a family in need to receive the vehicle.

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.