UNM program teaches teens about interacting with police
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A University of New Mexico program is helping local high school students prepare to interact with police.
University of New Mexico law students are paired up with high school students to teach them about their rights, and this year there are more UNM students than ever before in the program, which started in 2011.
Program leaders said the need is growing as more teenagers are coming into contact with law enforcement as a result of crimes involving young people in Albuquerque.
The law students explain topics like unreasonable searches and seizures, probable cause, when an officer may only need reasonable suspicion for a search and Miranda rights.
“Many people don’t know what those rights mean. We as adults often don’t know, and certainly young people don’t know exactly what it means when, for example, we can say you can stop questioning at any time,” said UNM law professor Maryam Ahranjani, who oversees the program.
They said the need for this kind of education has been growing.
“It is so much a part of our lives as everyday citizens, and certainly the lives of the students we serve who have many times already been involved in police encounters, or certainly family members and community members that they’re close with have had those interactions, so it’s very salient for them and it’s also something we want to make sure they understand what their rights are in those contexts,” Ahranjani said. “The level of interest is incredibly high. We kept encountering students who had so much interaction, unfortunately negative interaction with law enforcement, that we felt it was important for them to understand where the lines are.”
The high school students practice mock scenarios, and a few of them will be in a national competition in Washington D.C. in April.