LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -With violent events happening all around the country, the Lawton Police Department says they want to continue to build positive relationships with children in the community.
The Lawton Police Department is hosting a Junior Citizens Police Academy for children between the ages of 8 and 16. Tuesday's lesson focused on teaching children the defensive tactics that officers sometimes have to use to keep the public safe. The academy allows police and children to get hands-on experience working together and it's aimed at showing the next generation of Lawton citizens that police are here to help.
Fortunately, Lawton hasn't had to deal with some of the same problems as other cities across the country, and the Lawton Police Department wants to keep it that way. LPD is hoping that the kids learn how well things run when the police and citizens work together.
After only two days of the Junior Citizens Police Academy, that message of the community and police working together seems to be rubbing off of on the children.
"You hear bad stuff about police nowadays, so you get to see the other side of police, not just what people on TV put. You get the real police officers because not all police are bad," Jaden Lawrence, one the kids attending the academy, said.
The kids are getting hands-on experience, learning about what the police go through and how that can relate to things in their own lives.
"It's important just to let the little kids know to not be scared of them, just make good choices and good decisions so it will kind of make their jobs easier as they grow up," Anietria Dennis, a kid attending the academy, said.
Detective Nancy Lombardo says it's never too early to build relationships with those in the community.
"I think it's really important at an early age to understand relationships, communication, how our society works and there's good and bad people out there all day long. The police are one of the good guys and we're here to help train them and educate them about that," Det. Lombardo said.
Det. Lombardo says the department is also trying to eliminate a common stereotype they are tired of hearing.
"Sometimes when you're out in public, I've even seen it, the parents will say something like 'that police officer is going to take you to jail if you don't behave.' That's not what we want the kids to think. We want them to think they can come to us with their problems, that we're here to help them, that we have an open relationship, that they feel comfortable enough to come up to us," Det. Lombardo said.
The kid's say they have already had their perception of police officers completely changed.
"I used to think that police officers were really scary, but they're really funny. I mean, they're hilarious," Lawrence said.
About 20 kids are attending the Junior Citizen Police Academy, which will continue through the rest of the week. Wednesday, the kids will get a lesson about the dangers of drugs.