GEORGETOWN, Del. - Police related deaths of young men like Philando Castile and Eric Garner have recently put law enforcement in the spotlight, casting our men and women in blue, in sometimes an unfavorable light.
The Georgetown Police Department knows this and that's why they are looking to change public opinion with their latest youth initiative. Georgetown Police introduced a community resource officer to local schools just recently, but they wanted police to continue developing a relationship with youth during the summer.
Their latest program is called the Georgetown Junior Police Academy, and it gives teens a chance to interact with police and get exposed to a career in law enforcement.
During this weeklong program, middle schoolers get a taste of what its's like to pursue a career in law enforcement.
"Each of the cadets will go through push-ups, sit-ups, and a run. I told them I just don't want kids that just want to be in law enforcement , I want them to test themselves and push themselves," says Detective Melvin.
Detective Melvin tells us the academy is meant to foster relationships between the community and local police, especially during a time when law enforcement is under intense scrutiny.
"We have to know as law enforcement, that some of these experiences that these children have had were probably traumatic with law enforcement," says Detective Melvin.
Detective Melvin is looking to change that perception by partnering with law enforcement agencies throughout Delaware.
On Tuesday, the Delaware National Guard and the Dover Police tactical team stopped by and gave them a glimpse of what a career in law enforcement might look like.
"I want to be a lawyer or a police officer so I thought it would be cool to learn about the different types of cops and what they do," says Hannah Norman, a cadet in the program.
Tuirell Witke, a cadet says, " We've learned a lot of respect and integrity, and never quitting, even when it gets tough."
During the academy, cadets are also assigned responsibilities and leadership roles.
"If they don't do their job effectively we fire them. And then we hire somebody new. And they learn how important it is that if you want to be in that leadership role, the responsibilities are high," says Detective Melvin.
Law enforcement officials instill values that they want the next generation of officers to carry on.
"And explain to them the seriousness of having integrity and honor and trust in the community moving forward," says Detective Melvin.
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