Children and police officers are able to make connections at Danville’s Youth Police Academy. This is the second year that the academy has been held. They play games together, such as basketball, and have fun.
Officers hope the program will help kids make positive life choices in the future. Another goal is for them to form bonds with the police officers within their community.
“I might want to be a police officer one day–to help people,” said Gehari Nicholson, a cadet.
“They’ve been very good in working with us and they’re also very nice,” said cadet Aaron Chivvis.
By breaking down the barriers, police hope to build positive relationships with the youth.
“When you know someone on a personal basis, you’re less likely to do the wrong thing because you respect that person so that’s what we’re trying to be,” said Sylvia Brooks, the Corporal of Youth Engagement for the Danville Police Department.
However, the kids learn powerful lessons as well.
Paul Harper lost his son in a Danville shooting back in 2014. He was a special speaker at the Academy on Wednesday.
“You don’t need to feel that kind of pain,” said Harper. “If it ever happens to somebody in your family, you can always talk to somebody about that. That’s what I’m doing to you all right now.”
“Paul, he had dropped out of high school because he went through so much stuff and he’s getting his GED now,” said Janae Poole, a youth leader. “I think that’s pretty cool. How he didn’t give up.”
While kids are learning powerful lessons, they’re also having fun — all in an attempt to drive home a serious message about the choices they make in the future.
There will be a graduation for cadets who complete the Youth Police Academy on June 27.