JPD graduated new recruits. They have no tactical training. Instead, the youth academy is armed with life skills.
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Jackson police just graduated dozens of new recruits. They’re not equipped with any tactical training, but instead, the youth group is armed with life skills.
The department’s annual Youth Citizens Police Academy exists to expose young people in Jackson to all that is good in life.
It’s been going on for the last 30 years.
Over the last few weeks, over 30 youth have had one-on-one mentoring, safety education, and character-building with police and faith-based leaders in the community.
The group has also been on the road, touring everything from the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum to the State Capitol - and even some fun in the sun at Jellystone Park in Pelahatchie.
You can conclude a lot about the type of policeman the organizer is when he explains his reason for spearheading the summer academy the last 12 years in a row.
“Our future is in their hands as well, because they will be the leaders, they will be the next teachers, the next doctors, the next police officers, the next group of people to lead Jackson and Mississippi in the nation,” Sgt. Fredric Suttles said. “And so we just wanted them to know that they are important, and no matter what darkness surrounds them, there’s still hope.”
Not all the youth in the program are accustomed to things many people take for granted, such as kindness and respect or someone who listens to their ideas, the 20-year law enforcement official said.
“We see the transformation from year to year,” Suttles said. “From not knowing anything law enforcement to opening up, showing leadership, and accepting instruction.”
The academy also aims to silence the stereotypes about Jackson.
“We are one, we are Jackson, and we love them,” he added. “And, we even though we have a career called policing, and law enforcement, it is an opportunity for us to engage with them and their parents and their siblings.”
The academy is like a bridge that Suttles uses to establish an ongoing relationship with the new recruits, parents, and siblings.
”After the camp ends, we bring parents in and talk about their child’s experiences and how we can work holistically - parents, law enforcement, faith-based leaders, and the community.
New this year - is a parenting workshop class that teaches parents how to engage with their children.
“I just tell parents - please have a conversation with your children,” he said, “But, don’t be biased. Listen and give them a safe haven to have the courage to tell you what’s really going on without being judged.”
If you would like to find out more about the academy or its year-round events, Sgt. Suttles can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (601) 960-2049.
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