Unique program offers students behind-the-scenes look at police work, training

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond Public Schools introduced a new curriculum to high school students this year. It’s a police youth academy cadet program that offers students a behind-the-scenes look at police work and training.

“That they go through a lot of stressful situations and you have to have patience,” George Wythe High School sophomore Jasmine Plummer said when asked what she took away from the program.

Through a simulator, the students practiced real-life situations like when to shoot or not to shoot, and if a weapon is needed, which one should they use. Some students admitted other teenagers in the community give them a hard time for taking the course.

“Every kid like around my age they’re like, ‘we don’t mess with 12 (police),’ I’m like what’s the big deal about them? I see them as doing a job, they’re on a job,” Armstrong High school sophomore De’Jah Waller said. “They’re like, ‘oh you’re a snitch now, oh you mess you with 12’ and this and that.

Police say the program will help the city recruit future officers into the police department. They say it’s good for the department to have officers who are actually from the area.

“I grew up on Jahnke Road in south Richmond,” class instructor Captain Harvey Powers said. “Pulling some people who know the city as police officers for the city has tremendous benefits. We get what it’s like to live here.”

While students said they have learned a lot through the program, Powers said learning is a two-way street.

“I’m learning things too,” he said. “The staff here at the police training academy are learning things about kids, we may have predispositions or unconscious biases what it’s like to police in certain communities.”

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