Tallahasse police department graduated 15 teenagers from their Youth Citizen Police Academy.
The academy allows for children, ages 13-17, to explore the world of a police officer through seven week course that allows for the teenagers to see the various fields in the department; such as, the K9 unit, traffic, TAC (Tactical Apprehension Control), and response to resistance. Officer Sean Wyman, introduced the idea this year.
“I wanted to pay it forward for all the police officers who had a positive impact on my life,” Wyman said. “Now I hope I had an opportunity to have a positive impact in your life.”
Wyman is very thankful to the police officers that made a difference in his life. He shared his personal story with the crowd, informing them that he once was a troubled teen, and never imagined that he would be where he is today, and that if it wasn’t for those officers who made a positive impact in his life, he probably wouldn’t be in a pretty place.
“No matter where you are at in your life right now, it doesn’t matter, because tomorrow could absolutely be different for you,” Wyman said.
The TPD has a program similar to this for adults, it was Wyman’s idea to make it available for the youth.
“Instead of the first time we’re making contact with these kids, we’re putting them in handcuffs, we are actually in a position where we can meet them in a positive environment; have a positive influence on them, and have a better outcome in the community,” Wyman said.
Deliliah Ray-Graham felt it was important to get her son involved in the program. She felt it was a great opportunity for her son to see what it’s like to be a police officer. Especially with what has been portrayed on the news lately, with police brutality seeming to be on a high.
“I just want him to at least see something positive about a police officer,” says Ray-Graham. “Not all of them are bad.”
The news has reported several incidents of questionable behavior from police officers all over the country. Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, and Tamir Rice all had unfortunate run-ins with the police, and all were minors. These new stories may easily put a negative mind set towards the police. Ray-Graham’s son, Milo Graham, was glad he participated in the course, it changed his outlook on the police in his community.
“It changed how I thought they were all bad and do things that are not legal,” Graham said.
As a police officer it is important that the community knows the officer is not the enemy, and that in order to keep the community safe they must work together. Depty Chief, Darrell Furuseth, thinks the program does a great job at bridging the gap between the youth and the police.
“Looking at the children, the kids when they got here the first day, and seeing the improvement and
seeing how open they are and how comfortable they are with the police, the police department, and its
members is incredible,” says Furuseth.
The TPD plans to continue the program, and hopes that as time goes on it will grow and bring the community and police officers together as whole. Wyman hopes that the program will make kids want to become police officers and make a difference in other people’s lives. He hopes the program will bring back passion to the department.
For more information on the Youth Citizen Police Acadamy go to TalGov.com.