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NASSAU COUNTY, Fla – The Nassau County Sheriff’s Office is giving local teens the chance to learn all about working in law enforcement.
The Teen Citizens Academy allows teens ages 14 to 18 to see what it’s like to be a police officer in hopes they will consider a future career in law enforcement.
The day may start inside what looks like a classroom, but the Nassau County Sheriff’s Office Teen Citizens Academy is so much more. For NCSO Sergeant Brian Blackwell, the joy in their eyes and the smiles on their faces mean everything.
“There’s nothing better than you having an interaction with somebody in that young age, and they smile when they walk away,” Sgt. Blackwell said. “And then they go and tell their friends, ‘hey, he was cool. He was this, he was that’. Because you’re just spreading positivity.”
During the program, teens will check out 911 dispatch, tour the jail, learn about firearms, forensics, defensive tactics, and everything in between. They’ll also get a real lesson through crime scene investigation activities. Sgt. Blackwell says the goal is to not only bridge community gaps, but to connect as people.
“I am somebody behind this badge. It’s not just a badge, you can humanize this as well,” Sgt. Blackwell said. “I’m Brian. I’ll talk to you like Brian.”
Sgt. Blackwell says this is an age group he wants to make a lasting impression on. He says he wants to clear up misconceptions about law enforcement, and for them to see the real community relations aspect.
“They can see that law enforcement is not just somebody who writes tickets and takes people to jail,” Sgt. Blackwell said. “We want these kids to understand what it’s like to be in law enforcement. To understand what it’s like to make a change in life and in the community.”
Upon completion of the program, there will be a graduation for the participants. They’ll get a chance to meet and talk with Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper. Sgt. Blackwell says some of the teens that participate in the Teen Citizens Academy go on to the Explorer program.
The deadline to apply is Friday, July 1st. The program will run July 27-29 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Breakfast and lunch will be provided. It’s free, but participants must be Nassau County residents. For more information, visit Nassau County Sheriff’s Office website.