Hartford Student, Community Service Officer to Be Honored at White House

A Hartford police officer and seventh-grader will be honored at the White House on Monday.

Hiram Otero, a community service officer assigned to the southern district of Hartford, and Kayke Lopes, a seventh-grader at Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy, are being honored as a part of the White House's Champions of Change program.

The program works to strengthen relationships between law enforcement officials and youth and enhance public safety in communities. It was created "to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities," according to the White House.

At the event, participants will learn best practices to spread that mission nationwide, working to build trust between police officers and youth in their communities.

Otero works with the faith-based community in Hartford, as well as local and state agencies, in efforts to enhance residents' quality of life. He worked with Kayke in the Charter Oak Cultural Center Good Vibrations mentoring program in a rap poetry class. The program seeks to use art as a way to reach out to youth and establish connections between them and police officers.

"Officer Otero and colleagues helped recruit students who were at a crossroads to participate in the mentoring program," White House officials said. "During the three-and-a-half month program, officers and youth helped to lift the negative stigma between police and youth through open discussions about racism, crime, government, and family."

In the class, police officers and young people wrote rap/poetry, performed their work and recorded original raps and poems. Through the class, Lopes participated in discussions with peers and officers and "excelled in the artistic process," according to the White House.

"Kayke, who was previously suspicious of law enforcement, is now interested in becoming a police officer when he graduates from high school," according to White House staff.

Police mentors in Good Vibrations have also taught youth how to play guitar.

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch, Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett and National Basketball Association player Caron Butler, a former UConn player, are all slated to speak at the event.

The event begins at 1:30 p.m. on Monday and you can watch live online through the White House's website.

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