NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Teen boys equipped with mock gun belts and service weapons practiced performing a traffic stop from the perspective of Metro-Nashville police officers.
The teams of two approached a stopped SUV from a Metro police car. Inside the SUV with dark-tinted windows were multiple occupants.
Each scenario was different, but in each situation the teens had to act as police officers while interacting with the driver and their passengers.
In multiple scenarios, the teens were fired on by the car’s occupants, who are Metro training officers.
Kaline Christian was one of the mock officers fired upon during the exercise.
“I can see now why police officers have things happen, because the way she was talking,” he said. “She made it seem like we had a problem, but we were just pulling her over for a traffic stop.”
Christian’s partner Benny Sikes said the exercise helped him understand what to expect if he is pulled over in the future.
“If I would not have come here, I would be like what do I do now?” he said.
The exercise is a part of the first ever Youth Citizen Police Academy. The four-week program is the result of a partnership with 100 Black Men of Middle Tennessee and the Metro Nashville Police Department.
“This summer, we provide the boys with a lot of experience including career readiness and college readiness,” said Lori Adukeh, Executive Director of 100 Black Men of Middle Tennessee. “One of the mottos of 100 black men is ‘what they see is what they will be.’”
She continued, “Hopefully they will think this is something that after I finish high school and go on to college I can come back to serve my community by being a police officer.”
The group of 45 boys between the ages of 14 and 18 years old are seeing the inner workings of the police department, including the K-9 division, SWAT, Crime Lab, Aviation and the traffic stop role play.
“We hope the leave with a new sense and understanding about what the police department is,” Sergeant Raymond Jones said. “Not just the department as we know it but also the individuals like myself who make up the department.”
He continued, “Of course in the future we hope this is planting seeds so one day they may become police officers for Nashville.”
The teens will graduate from the Youth Citizens Police Academy next week. Officers hope to stay in contact with the teens though out the year.