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Police: Community Involvement

The Oklahoma City Police Department invests time, money in Metro Tech’s pre-law enforcement program to train officers in community relations.
Police: Community Involvement

Police: Community Involvement

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Francis Tuttle Technology Center

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Show Details

Show 1713: Police: Community Involvement
Air Date: March 26, 2017

 

Transcript

Rob McClendon: Well, a desire to help those in need is something most police officers share. Police work can often be just as much about community relations as it is law enforcement. That is why the Oklahoma City police department has invested both time and money into the Metro Tech pre-law enforcement program. And our Blane Singletary was there for training day.

Blane Singletary: The mile and a half run has just begun at the Oklahoma County Sheriff Office’s Physical Fitness Challenge. These young cadets have come to hone their skills and engage in some healthy competition.

Johnnie Loudermilk: The students were wondering why they were always working out, and we were encouraging them to continue working out.

Blane: That’s Johnnie Loudermilk, an instructor at Francis Tuttle Technology Center. He helped start the fitness challenge several years ago and says physical fitness is important because that’s what agencies will be looking for when it comes time for these cadets to apply.

Loudermilk: So we found that it not only motivated them to work out, but it also gave us an opportunity to mix law enforcement with our cadet classes to improve the education that we’re providing for these students.

Blane: These cadets have to be at the top of their game, physically, mentally and so much more. And yet these teens and young adults have chosen to commit themselves to this difficult profession.

Andrea Wood: Ever since I’ve been a little girl, I’ve always wanted to be a police officer. I’m fascinated with the idea of serving and protecting in whatever way I can. And it’s a great opportunity.

Blane: Andrea Wood is a newly minted graduate from Metro Tech’s pre-law enforcement program. We spoke to her in her senior year.

Wood: My hope is to go to college, get a degree and then come back and apply for Oklahoma City.

Blane: And every one of these cadets, from 12 different programs at tech centers across the state, has a different reason for stepping up to the challenge. Amanda Eastridge is the head instructor for the program at Metro Tech.

Amanda Eastridge: They want to change their own life. They want to do something different. They want to be a part of something like law enforcement that’s a brotherhood. And the more they get involved in it, the more they go back to their home high school, and they talk with all kinds of enthusiasm. And it just pays itself forward.

Blane: Eastridge, a longtime member of law enforcement herself, says the program at Metro Tech is especially important for this reason. Many inner city police departments around the country don’t have much inner city representation. And Metro Tech, located in northwest Oklahoma City, serves many students who live in this poorer, inner city area.

Eastridge: A lot of them come from really rough neighborhoods; they come from neighborhoods where it’s easier to do the wrong thing than it is to the right thing. And there is the drive in them. I think it is inherent in who they are, and it’s a matter of connecting them with the right way and the right path and the right people to gain that success.

Blane: And in a short time, this program has seen rapid growth. So much so that late last year, Metro Tech unveiled their new pre-law training facility.

Tomas Daugherty: The program has expanded so we had to do the same.

Blane: Sgt. Tomas Daugherty of the Oklahoma City Police department is embedded in their class.

Daugherty: We had a lot of interested young adults to take part in this. So we see the need and recognized the need for a bigger space was absolutely needed. And as you can see, this place is phenomenal.

Blane: With extended seating, a robust area for physical training and a simulated firing range, these young cadets will have great opportunities to become the next generation of law enforcement, something that Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty has taken notice of.

Bill Citty: This inspires me. To see the strength of some of these kids to want to commit to this program in spite of the pressures in many ways not to.

Blane: Aside from the strenuous physical training and discipline, that is the other big mountain these cadets have to climb. Communication, interview skills and connecting with the community are key pillars of this program.

Eastridge: I would say about 95 percent of police work is relationships and communication. Part of connecting them with the community is that they’re a direct reflection. They’re raised in that kind of chaos. And so they’re able to relate directly with the community more so than somebody who isn’t.

Blane: And in turn the students gain a new perspective about their neighborhood policemen that they can’t get anywhere else. Again, Andrea Wood.

Wood: What I wasn’t really expecting was, I think, after getting to know all the officers, it was just seeing such a human side of them, you know, which is something most of the community doesn’t always get to see. They come in with their uniforms on, all shined up, and you feel that little sinking. But then, like, you know, he’ll just tell you a story about all the outreach programs that they do with the kids. They’re always connecting with the community, and you just see that they’re people.

Blane: And the biggest thing they gain is a community of their own. Over time, these cadets band together and form their own unit. They actively encourage each other to conquer the task at hand.

Wood: After you’ve been on the ground doing pushups with them or running around just motivating each other, you really feel like a family. And it’s a bond that you can’t break.

Blane: And it’s that bond that will carry them through even the toughest challenges law enforcement presents. And Amanda Eastridge says times have never been tougher.

Eastridge: At the end of the day, I’m absolutely proud of each one of these students for making a decision like this when it’s not popular. It’s not any secret that being in law enforcement right now is not a popular choice. So it’s actually helped me grow. I’ve learned more from a group of high school students probably than they’ve ever learned from me.

Blane: It’s true grit that got all of these cadets from all over the state to this point. Sgt. Daugherty says it is that same determination that will continue to push them ahead.

Daugherty: I want them to be successful and good citizens, regardless if they ever get to wear this uniform or not.

Rob McClendon: Now, I was able to sit down with Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty for a wide-ranging conversation about just some of the challenges law enforcement faces. To watch that entire interview, just head to our website and look under our value added section.