NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The relationship between police and minority groups continues to be a tough topic worthy of discussion. One of Nashville's Historically Black Colleges and Universities is gaining national attention for its Citizens Police Academy.
At the height of police shootings involving unarmed African-American men, Tennessee State University's Dean of Students Frank Stevenson decided to use his connections to start a positive conversation at home.
"I have a lot of friends who are police officers but I also am a community leader and know a lot of people who are feeling disgusted by some of the behavior of police officers," Stevenson said.
Three years ago, Stevenson and a fellow pastor brought an idea to start a university's citizen police academy and team up with the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department.
The academy has flourished --- and in June, HBCU Digest Awards recognized the academy as the Best Student Organization in the nation. It received top honors against more than 100 other nominees.
"It was really exciting to be awarded this not only for the students but for Tennessee State University," Stevenson said.
The five week program focuses on two ideas - gives students an inside look at how law enforcement works and exposes Metro police to the community it serves.
It is also a way to recruit students to join the police force. Currently, three graduates are in the process of joining the police department.
Stevenson said he hopes other schools across the country will take up the academy's model and build back trust throughout our country.