Champion Academy helps strengthen police relationships

Rochester native and Super Bowl champ Roland Williams invited Rochester Police to speak at his Champion Academy to strengthen relationships between officers and the kids in the community.

At a time when police and community relations are strained in many communities, a Super Bowl champion is trying to strengthen those relations in Rochester.

Roland Williams brought back his Champion Academy this year.

"There's a lot of positivity, a lot of positive people in Rochester,” Roland said, greeting kids off the bus with the “Champion Welcome.” “You see right here behind me that we want to make Rochester amazing and we can do it."

Providing support to students that may not otherwise have it, the year-long academy is teaching kids that hard work, and team work, can make a difference. And on Friday, there was a special message for the more than 300 kids here.

"I’m grateful to have the people of Rochester Police Department that care about this community come to our young people."

Deputy Chief Wayne Harris was one of the officers that came to talk to the champions at the academy.

A big message he shared is that even though they’re in uniform, officers are members of this community too.

“They saw the protests that occurred here and in Dallas and the last couple of years heading about horrific events, they can't help but form an opinion. Here's another opinion."

Harris says seeing what’s been in the news, is furthering the divide. Being at the Champion Academy, though, he said, is community policing at its best.

"Stuff like this bridges that gap. A lot of kids never met police. Never had opportunity to say, ‘what's your name? My name is Wayne.’ That's what’s important."

Williams said people like to talk about the problems every day, but not enough about the solutions. At his academy, they focus on those solutions so that they can make the kids’ futures brighter.

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