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The deadline to apply is July 1.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Connecting the gap between police and the youth. In Nassau County, the sheriff’s office is looking for their next class at the Teen Citizens Academy. The teens that get involved will go behind the scenes where most civilians don’t get to see. Leah Shields shows us a glimpse.
Teens 14 to 18 years old will get a chance to work with the head of the Nassau County SWAT team, solve a fake crime, and go into the jail to see what police do on a daily basis. The purpose? Goes beyond just having some summer fun.
In the midst of summer this is not where you wanna end up unless it’s for the Teen Citizens Academy.
“There’s nothing better than you having an interaction with someone of a young age and they smile when they walk away. You know, they go and tel their friends hey he was cool. He was this. He was this. Because you know you’re just spreading positivity and if we can do that, that’s a win all day.”
That’s Sergeant Brian Blackwell, head of the SWAT team in Nassau County and sort of a camp counselor. Both positions he loves. The latter because he gets to show people this…
“I am somebody behind this bad. It’s not just a badge. You can humanize this as well. I’m just a person. I’m Brian.”
Teens will go into the 911 center, behind the scenes of a fake SWAT mission, and even learn how to get a warrant. The surface goal may be to show the kids what law enforcement do every day, but for Blackwell, it’s about clearing up any misconceptions teens have about police.
“Anything to project positivity. Anything where they know they can come to us and there isn’t any kind of fear or repercussion for talking to law enforcement. We want them to know that we are people too we just wear a badge and have a job to do and we’ll do anything to protect them and make sure everything goes correctly.”
Sign ups close July 1. The program is free for 14 to 18 year olds. They provide food and transportation.