By Tamar Davis
The Meridian Times Staff Reporter
The Meridian Township Police Department is currently on its 10-year anniversary with organizing its youth academy and hopes to impact the community and youth of Okemos, Haslett and other parts of Ingham County.
“This isn’t just to benefit the people of Meridian Township, but to also benefit and impact the relationship youth has with law enforcers.” police Sgt. Scott Dawson said. “It’s an opportunity for us to let teenagers know that we are normal people, and we’re not always out to get them and bust their parties.”
During this seven-week experience, students will get hands-on involvement with crime scene investigation, the K-9 unit, use of force, a firearms training simulator and more.
Former participants of police youth academies loved what they learned and what the program had informed them. Charles Jones, a former student of the youth police academy explained why he would recommend it for others to participate in.
“At first I wasn’t really feeling the whole police youth academy and spending time with cops, I just thought it was a waste of time.” Jones said. “But after a while I start realizing what I was being prepared for, and that’s real-life situations. My favorite activity to do just so happen to be the one I benefitted from the most, which was learning the use of force.”
Jones wasn’t the biggest fan of the law enforcers before being a member of the police youth academy. Jones said he never visioned himself respecting the law as much as he do now.
Okemos resident Iris Harper believes these type of programs and organizations can help turn around not only the youth in her community but also the youth of any community.
“I think it’ll be good training for young people who are interested in police training.” Harper said. “with other youth members being a part of this program, I really believe it can influence other youth and teens of the community to want to be apart of and it will give both youth members and police officers an insight from both perspectives.”
This productive program is free of charge. It started on Feb. 17 and ends Mar. 30. All classes will be held at the Public Safety building on Wednesdays from 6:30p.m. to 8:30p.m. Contact Sgt. Scott Dawson if you are interested at 517-853-4800 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org