COACHELLA, Calif. -- - Forty kids from Coachella middle schools are in uniform and in the classroom, but they aren't learning standard curriculum. They are learning what it takes to be a police officer.
"We select these kids because they've shown good behavior and had really good attendance," says Lieutenant Misty Reynolds from the Coachella Police Department.
In the Youth Cadet Academy, 12-14 year-old kids spend two weeks interacting with emergency responders, city leaders, and law enforcement.
"This is a way of rewarding them, giving them something to do in the summer, and also a way for us to interact with the kids," says Lt. Reynolds. "Just build that bridge between law enforcement and the community, and the kids are a perfect avenue to do that."
Cahuilla Desert Academy eighth grader Emilio Martinez wants to follow in his family's footsteps as an officer in the Navy.
"It takes a lot of work, it takes a lot of education," he's learning.
It takes a lot of schooling, and a lot of physical training. Siena Flores says this is a stepping stone to her ultimate goal of becoming a homicide detective.
"You get to solve crimes," Flores says, "you get to experience different kinds of crimes like stabbings, you get to see blood. I want to see blood."
Lt. Reynolds says this is a way for the students to trust law enforcement, and come to them when there's a problem at school or at home.
"Usually they see us when something happens at their home. It's negative and they're afraid of us," she says, "This is free, it's fun, they have a good time, and the kids enjoy it."
Students are chosen in a selection process between teachers and the Riverside County Sheriff's Department. It is free for the students.
To learn more, contact the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, as the academy is offered for different lengths of time during the summer and in other cities.
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