PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - The Palm Springs Police Department hosted its first-ever student police academy Thursday afternoon. it's a six week course designed to expose students to professions in law enforcement, while giving them a firsthand look at scenarios officers are faced with daily.
Palm Springs Police Department's Rangemaster, Chuck Menley, says police are under scrutiny more so now, than ever before.
"With all of the information that young people are exposed to, [like] the media, there's a lot of information that's not correct. A lot of misinformation and there's hardly any real good method for validating that, so if they come to an authoritative source, they can get first hand information and get the facts and make up their own minds once they have that information," Menley said.
The first class of students coming through the course are the Boys and Girls Club Keystone Student Leadership Group of Palm Springs. Many of them came into the course with predetermined opinions toward police.
"I respected them, but I wasn't totally liking them, I guess you could say," said Lynn Marie Jean-Jacques, a student who went through the course. But one of the last lessons weighed heavy on some students.
"I never really understood it until now, like to see it actually happen, and be in the position that they're in. It was pretty shocking," Marisela Alvarado said.
It was a police use of deadly force simulation course, which is a course used for training PSPD's own officers.
"A lot of these scenarios have been based on real situations where officers have been shot or killed in the line of duty. It's based on real events. There are times when I get the gun back and its covered in perspiration, so the person is very nervous and anxious about it, so they realize how realistic this tends to be," Menley said.
Students stepped up to the plate and made their own decisions in the nick of time.
"I didn't expect the suspects to be so quick, like one lady shot the police officer over a ticket. She was going to get a ticket for speeding, and it was shocking cause it escalated so quickly," Jean-Jacques said.
"I think they had an "ah hah" moment, where they realized these situations can happen in real life and a mistake can be very costly," said Menely.
The six week course inspired many students to pursue careers in law enforcement.
Students with the Boys and Girls Club of Palm Springs went through six weeks of training with PSPD.