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tv   Mosaic  CBS  February 14, 2021 5:30am-6:01am PST

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. #. good morning and welcome to "mosaic" i'm ron swisher. it is always a pleasure to host along with my co-host. many of you know that the musical "hamilton" has taken the world and counsel true by storm for a number of years now. miranda, the great creator, just finished 26 programs, they are shows in puerto rico, sold out. fundraiser. great fundraiser for many, the hurricane relief there. and many of our communities and churches have contributed to
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that relief. i had the privilege of seeing the "hamilton" on broadway, listen to the soundtrack many times and i read some of the history and what i discovered miranda said every musical has to have a signature song and i think this one has many signature songs and many musicals do. but he said after working on it for a year his song would be "my shot" and in that song he takes about basically i'm not going to throw away my shot, the edge opportunity to have an education, the opportunity to go through the doors. he says i'm hungry like the country and i'm young and scrappy and you need to rise. but sometimes you can't rise unless you have help, unless you have parents sometimes who are supporting you and teachers canned can't do it all and mentors can't do it all, but they do help a great deal.
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they help get you that shot, an opportunity, so you can't waste it. so it is a thrill for us to have today one of the police officers who is working in the program called okay program called robert smith. >> thank you for coming. >> thank you for having me. >> yes. >> tell awes little bit about your background before we go into what you do with the okay program. >> my name is robert smith. ways born in baltimore, maryland. i left baltimore in the very early years and went to mississippi. grew up in mississippi until about high school and fast forward through a few states and i ultimately settled down in california and here i am. >> you have been a police officer for how long? >> six years. >> what motivated you become a police officer? >> i was talking to a good friend of mine's mother and the opportunity came across the internet and she said you would
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make a good police officer. so i decided to apply and the rest is kind of history. >> when they said you would make a good police officer, what did they see in your character that lend to that? >> i love helping people. i love community. i would like to say i'm very kind hearted and i like to serve, so policing is a big -- everybodiing a big part of policing. >> right. >> but isn't it extremely stress nfl. >> it is stressful in a sense, but just day to day get through it. they have different things, you know, for officers. they have a lot of wellness -- you know, well sentence a big thing now, but they provide a lot of opportunities to de- stress. >> when you talk about wellness, what does that entail? >> just self care. self care, ball license and work and home and making sure
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you're take care of yourself. >> okay. now, the okay program, tell us about that. >> so the okay program, it is leadership and -- it is a leadership development modal that focuses on african- american males 12 to 18 years old and our goal in the okay program is to develop leadership and critical thinking skills of the young men we have, promote academic excellence and also reduce the high risk of incarceration among african-american males. >> i think i read it started in 1990? >> yes n1990 by sacramento county sheriff deputy, donald norcross. his story, he says often when he was sheriff's deputy, he got tired of seeing african- american men go to jail at such a high rate so he looked around for a solution to the problem, and he said he couldn't find one. so he started the okay program. >> that is great. >> that means he is giving many
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young people a shot. >> many young people a shot. >> we all need that help. >> yes, sir. >> we're appreciative of the work that you're doingment continue that and we're going to hear more about that in the future segments and even the deputy chief might be here. >> yes, sir. >> great to have you, robert. >> i appreciate you. >> please join us, robert smith and the okay program, our kids, our kids. when the day unfolds we're covering the area like no one does. expect a full recap of what happened today. >> kit be a lifeline for small businesses. >> and what is ahead tomorrow. >> the focus remains -- >> the go -- >> at a time that works for you. >> weeknights on kpix 5, expect
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. >> welcome back to "mosaic." i'm ron swisher. we have been talking to robert smith about the okay program, our kids. at first i thought it meant the oakland kids, but this program extends throughout the state. so helping young people, young kids. tell us more about that, the fact that it is in other parts of the country. >> yes, so currently we have an okay program in i believe seven states, and chapters just like oklahoma. we call them chapters, and chapter is a middle school that we start in that feeds into a high school. so all of the chapters are ran by african-american police officers, and they try to follow those young boys that we recruit into the program from sixth grade all the way to 12th grade to build that relationship and stick with them to get true any issues
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that they might encounter. >> do you find them open? do you feel initem dated by seeing the police officers. how do you see that experience? >> at first, just because of what has been going on in the news an the media, the young kids, especially african- american boys are concerned when they first -- you know, when you first approach them. i'm officer smith and this is my program, but really when the young men -- if you stay consistent and you find out they're genuine and they become to trust you, they eventually sign up, and it is a good thing. >> have you seen any become a police officer yet? >> i have a few youngsters that want to be police officers. they ask questions about it and are spreesed, but i have only been doing the program now for four years, so none of my boys are actually old enough yet to become police officers. >> and you are in charge of the program, right? >> yes, sir, i run the oakland
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okay program. >> so that is your main responsibility as a police officer now? >> correct that is my full-time assignment. i am off of patrol and i work in the program full-time just dealing with the youngsters and running this program. >> that is important. it is amazing that you're able to -- when i think of a police officer, many times they're doing a lot of paper work, they're out there ton streets, it is so demanding in that regard, but this is tremendous work, too. >> correct. we have -- so if you think of an officer on the street, it is all after the fact. this is more of a preventative measure. so, you know, just trying to deal with some things on the front end so that way officers working the street don't have to do -- you know, we can reduce that work in the back end. >> i have a passage in scripture about what is most important and what does god really want for us and the passage says god wants justice and love and mercy and kindness and god wants humility.
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those three important things. what would u you say are the most important qualities and characteristics in the youth that you're teaching and mentoring? >> the leadership and critical thinking piece, knowing how to handle situations, just learning how just to deal with things. a lot of our young men, unfortunately, don't have fathers in their lives, so, you know, a father is supposed to be there to help mentor and guide you and help you become a man. so when that is missing in your life, we're not trying to be their fathers, but we are trying to bring in this village, if you will, to help just men for, guide and teach the young men in the program how to just handle certain situations. it is always said, especially african-american boys, if they have a legitimate threat on their life, they're less likely to call the police and more likely to put a gun in their pocket. and that could be because of
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history or, you know, whatever, but in the okay program, we build relationships with these young men and when they do have a threat or they do have an issue, they know they can call their okay program office tore handle any situation and they feel comfortable doing that. >> that is excellent. i want to ask a little bit more about the leadership, but i think you said something during the introduction, the break about a leadership conference that you have in march. >> yes, sir. >> tell us about that. >> yes. we started in oakland. it is called black boys need black mentors and capital m. e. n. it was a luncheon that we put on and last year was our first annual luncheon. >> i think you showed the pictures before we came in. >> yes, sir. for this year, march 23, we're doing the same thing. it will be our second annual luncheon and we're going to make a call on our black men again in the community to come out and help basically mentor black boys. >> okay. and will it be --
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>> so it will be at frick middle school this year in oakland, 2845-64th avenue and more detail also come out. february 1 we will go live with all of the advertising and promotion. >> in that conference, what do you do? >> at the beginning of the conference we have basically a career day where we have the men come out in different career fields and teach the boys and have them learn about different career fields that they might be interested in. the second part of the conference is just a presentation on what we do in the program, you know, our founder, donald norcross will be there. he'll speak about the program and we come together. we eat lunch. we fellowship with the boys and the men have an opportunity to talk to the boys and we give away a few awards, and then we'll invite the men who attend the luncheon out for train sog they can actually become a part of okay and we call them teammates, the mentors. >> that is excellent. i read a little bit about
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norcross, i'd like to hear more about him, the founder. he seemed to be highly motivated and just really committed, and has quite a background of support of different organizations, support of different politicians have come out from both republicans and democrats have recognized his skills and ility. so it goes beyond any political partisanship. she involved and committed to these kids. >> very passionate. >> i am impressed. i just read about him but i know you know him more. >> yes, sir. >> we will be coming back and talking more. >> yes, sir. >> please. >> john: us with robert smith.
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>> welcome back to "mosaic."
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during the break robert mentioned the members of the board, bob jackson and tell us an 't the involvement of the church and the community and the schools and how it works. >> basically how the okay program is put together, it is a partnership between the police department, the school district of that city and the community which is a church that the okay program looks for, a pastor that is very active in the community and they make that to the chairman of the board and that is bishop bob gibson of the baptist church and basically he funds the program. he raises all of the money for the program of these boys, so they can eat every weekend when we have our sat mentoring session with them. when we incentivize them for their behavior and grades and different things we have put in place for the program. bishop jackson is responsible for all of that in oakland. >> could you have done that without him? >> oh, absolutely not.
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it takes somebody strong and dedicated like bishop jackson to be able to help us go forward and move forward. the police department is big because obviously they supply the officer and the school district is a big piece of that because they supply the kids, and then you have to have somebody to maintain the program, make sure it continues to go forward, make sure of any obstacles and funding is a big part of it. >> now, the funding is it strictly through the church or are there other source ? >> bishop jackson raises money through the church, the community, and through different aspects. you know, he'll put on a ski mask to get that money if he have i don't to, he says. everything comes through him. so whether it is through the relations or letters or different people he sees. >> i see. when i was here in oakland, i knew a bishop jackson, so when i heard his name i was glad to know he was still involved
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because i know he takes it to heart, dedicated and determined and one of those mentors that you talked act. so that is just excellent. now, we talk about skills. and, again, what are some of the leadership skills you think you teach them, the kids? >> so on saturdays we have a session called the kick it session, and we focus on anger management, money management, critical thinking skills, decision making. how to speaker act with the police, if your get pulled over, what to do, different things like that, and that is our curriculum for saturday. >> anger management, financial? >> management, critical thinking skills, decision makes, how to interact with the police and a slew of others. >> that is extremely important. >> yes, sir. >> and i'm glad that you're doing that because you have to start young. >> absolutely. >> and very good. very good. we have one more segment and we
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don't know if the deputy chief will make it. i know he had an emergency come up. >> yes, sir. >> and you are handling it quite well. >> yes, sir. >> and tell him to look at this. you'll get a promotion. >> yes, sir. okay. >> please join us in our last segment with robert smith and the okay program.
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>> if you have been with us, to
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have a great program like the okay program, you need many great volunteers and i need to shot out to troy belton and he made the contact of these officers and now we have joining us the deputy chief armstrong. great to have you. >> good to be here. >> your man has done a great job here. >> he has. he is a very unique officer. >> i'm glad he could come. >> tell us a little bit about your back grown and your experience with the program. >> well, i have been with the oakland police department for over 20 years. i'm born and raised in oakland. >> okay. >> and i grew up in west oakland and graduated from high school and so i have always had obviously a connection to the city that i work in. growing up, where i grew up there were some challenges in the community, a program like our program, the okay program, is one i wish was there when i was a kid. >> i'm sure. >> and so as a leader in the oakland police department to have, you know, officers like
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officer smith who are willing to go into our communities and work with young men of color, particularly african-american young men, to give them positive role models, give them opportunities, both academically and socially and also giving them a positive resource. somebody that they can talk to as you sort of navigate your experiences in the city of oakland. >> with that long history, what motivated you become a police officer? >> my motivation for becoming a police officer is really root inned a care for my community, that i grew up seeing a lot of tragic things happen in my community, my family lad our own tragic experience with the loss of my own brother when i was young, him being killed. i wanted to serve my community and i wanted to put a different face on law enforcement in the city of oakland so that was my passion, to be a different kind of police officer, to be a part of a cultural change within a police department that had a
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tremendously marred history. >> norcross is the founder, right? >> yes. >> tell us a little bit about his motivation. >> well, i think -- i call him dr. norcross because when you listen to him speak, it is like he is a doctor and he really understands what is needed, what is prescribed to help improve outcomes for african- american boys, and so when you meet with mr. norcross, you see his passion. you also understand from his own experience being a deputy until sacramento county that he understands from a law enforcement perspective what it is to work with young men, and so i think his grass roots sort of come in out of a place of care, you know, him and the young men that he touched when he started the program. you can see the impact because these young men still come back and support the program to this day. and so him being a positive role model to them and them
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coming back to show the success that they've had in their lives, it is showing us the important role that people like officer smith play, that at some point we hope to see other young men, african-american men come back and talk about what he meant to hem and how he helped them change their lives. >> i asked robert earlier some of the skills and leadership skills. what do you think is the most important thing you teach the kid ? >> well, i think the most important thing is is how you have relationships with people, right, and how you treat people. how to be respectful to one another. and one of the things i appreciate is the volunteer men, right? i really think that to me is the most powerful part of the program. a lot of young men don't have fathers in their homes unfortunately, and for other african-american men to volunteer their time, to come in and be mentors to these young men, that is vital. it is vital to our community, but it also shows them that there are positive african- american men doing things in
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the community and african- american men that care about them and they're taking time out of their own schedules to give become to them. and i think that is powerful when you come from sometime a broken family and you don't have that role model at home. >> absolutely. >> you mentioned volunteers before the deputy chief came there and do you want to mention other volunteers. you mentioned bishop jackson. >> he is the chairman of our board, bishop jackson and like what the deputy chief was talking about, we recruit, organize and train african- american men in the community to help come and help us with the boys. i'm only one man, and when we have the boys come on sates, there are anywhere between 40 and 60 young men that we have on saturday. the men, they actually come out and they help us just be a positive role model, you want to talk about life experiences with the boys, and give advice on different -- just different things. >> what success have you seen,
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deputy chief? >> well, i have seen students that were struggling, that had very low gpas in school. i remember one young man had a 1.0 and was really struggling and suffering academically and i have also seen one of our former okay officers, rich williams, wrap his arms around that young man and support that young man and watch that young man's gpa elevate to over a 3.07. so it really shows that when you have somebody that care enough to listen, to support these young men, that they can do great things, and so i do -- i do understand that some people ask why so much fop kuss on african-american men? because the reality is that african-american men face the greatest risk. >> amen. >> and so if we want to have a realistic conversation about how we can improve outcomes for african-american men, we have to focus on that. so this program allows us to provide them the focus and
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attention that they need, and it is really bringing them role models, bringing them people that look like them in front of them and saying that you can do -- you can do well. you can be successful and you can be gate. >> i have seen on the website some of the, what, seven cities and you have the grade point average. you have the people who have stayed out of jail and incarceration and all of that. so you track it. >> yes. we are tracking all of those things. dr. norcross is very specific about what it is that he wants you to track and make sure we're getting the positive outcomes that he knows the program can achieve. and i think to bishop jackson's credit, he continues to lead our oakland program and i think he does a really good job of supporting the program both financially as well as motivating other people to come be a part of it. >> well, you're both an inspiration and i'm glad you came today. thank you for coming. >> thank you. >> keep up that great work. you have been with us here on
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"mosaic" and these police officers and all of the great work they're doing. i began with "hamilton" and let me end with hamilton, who lives, who dies, who thes your story and in their telling the story of the young people and we also have to tell our own story and god also tells our story that you count. you are somebody. god loves you. god bless you. thank you for being with us! james brown and bill cowher welcoming you back
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