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CITI Camp builds trust between police officers, Cincinnati kids

CINCINNATI — Fifty kids are attending a sleepover this weekend as part of a Cincinnati Police Department program dedicated to building relationships between families and officers.

CITI Camp — that’s “Children in Trauma Intervention” Camp — is an eight-week program for children ages 10-12. Officer Eddie Hawkins, who helps run it, sees it as a way to set participants on the right path for their futures.

"Their mindset is starting to change in regards to how they think, how they look at their peers, and how they look at themselves,” he said. “That's what we're working on."

Sixteen-year-old CPD cadet Andrew Lewis hopes he can make a lasting impression on the CITI Camp kids, especially in light of recent shootings involving teenagers.

“I get to share what I’ve been through, tell them what you can do to avoid the problems, clear their path of all the distractions,” he said.

Of the violence, he added: “It kind of stings, for real. Most of the people that have been getting killed, I’ve grown up with. I’ve known.”

Hawkins knows it’s a long game, and he knows a sleepover — or even an eight-week camp — isn’t necessarily a life-changing event. Instead, he hopes it will be one positive push among many in these children’s lives.

“If you're expecting change to happen overnight, change to happen next week, next month, next year? Don't hold your breath,” he said. “The young person, the reward is further down the line."

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