CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is teaming up with a convicted felon to start a campaign aimed at reaching young people.
Police say the campaign, called "Straight Up," will be a part of the community empowerment initiative that the department and community partners have in the Hidden Valley and Lakewood communities. The campaign will work with families to root out and address the underlying causes of crime.
CMPD says "Straight Up" will be a social media campaign but organizers will also go out into the community to talk with youths to find out what the problems are.
Cedric Dean, a convicted felon who is now working with police, says the aim is "to listen, to learn, and to lead."
Dean says his life took a wrong turn when he was 13-years-old. He says when he was 15-years-old he "shot someone" and at 16-years-old he was locked up for armed robbery. He says he served his time, but when he was released he was back in trouble and back in prison.
While in a federal penitentiary, Dean said he turned his life around and realized his life of crime could make a difference.
During CMPD's weekly press briefing, Dean told reporters that he wants young people to stop seeing police as the enemy. Dean said he plans to contact agencies that are working and supporting youths to help launch the campaign, which he says will have a big presence on social media.
Dean says gangs are currently targeting and recruiting young kids on social media. He said anyone who participates in "Straight Up" will receive points for being involved.
CMPD says registration for the program will start next week.
The department says more details about the launch will be released at a later time.