RICHARDSON - It was a big Friday for 18 Richardson teens at the Youth Citizens Police Academy Graduation! The students say it was a week full of fun:
"We saw a heart, brain, kidney lungs, all of this stuff and then like, after she was done presenting, she let us hold it."
"We did some simulations which were pretty cool. It`s literally in a room, a giant screen, and then it puts you in a scenario as a police officer somewhere."
"My favorite part was when Officer Jones offered herself to get tackled by the K9."
"I think my favorite part was wearing the drunk goggles, we got to experience being drunk, driving in a golf cart."
Sounds like a great time, but it wasn`t all fun and games.
"We enjoy showing what we do to the community," says Sgt. Frank Bradford with the RPD Crime Prevention Unit, "because it gives us an opportunity to get our narrative out, how hard we work and how hard we train."
We know with events over the past few years - Ferguson, the pool party incident in McKinney, the shooting in Dallas - to name a few, Richardson Police say the 'police perspective' needs to be told, and relationships need to be built.
"For those students who sit at home and they think about the police and why we do some of the things that we do, it gives them an opportunity to see how we train so when they see things on TV they can relate to what we`ve told them. And then what the narrative they`re getting so they can put the two together to form their own opinion," says Sgt. Bradford.
Driving that point home, we asked what the kids took away.
"What they go through every day and how to change it and grow up being better than what`s going on now. A lot of drunk driving, a lot of people just doing whatever they want," says youth academy graduate, Marlene.
"Gives us a look into what police officers actually do because there`s so many different standpoints and views of police officers. There`s different races and cultures," says youth academy graduate, Mia, "and they really have to go through some thinking in a quick amount of time so that they can save themselves and other people so I think people should notice that they`re people too. [...] They are mom`s and dads, I would know."
To apply for next year`s free keep an eye out for registration opening towards the end of the school year.