In 2014 I hosted the first Teens & the Law Event at Rickards because I was concerned about the increase in altercations between youth and law enforcement. This was a very sensitive issue for me because many of my classmates were fearful of the police. Because I had participated in the TPD TAC camp my views of the police was different from my peers. Our parents taught my sister and me to be PROACTIVE and NOT REACTIVE. I also didn't want to lose a friend because they didn't know how to react if they were stopped by the police. I thought that if they learned first hand from law enforcement why they stop people, what happens if you are stopped, how to respond to law enforcement if you are stopped, what NOT to do, how you converse with law enforcement during a stop and what the officers are thinking and feeling when they make a stop- that this might PREVENT PROBLEMS for students and officers.
I asked my classmates what they thought about the idea and many thought that we couldn't get them to come out and talk to us. I spoke with my Principal and SGA Sponsor and asked if we could host the event for the Sophomore class. When I got their approval, I spoke with the City and NOBLE and they agreed to participate in the event. Because nothing like this had ever been hosted at Rickards or any local high school, we did not know what to expect. It was AWESOME! The students hung on every word, the officers were honest and open with student questions, the videos were informative and we ALL left the event with a different view about law enforcement. We even had students take advantage of the ride-along opportunities with the different departments and are seriously considering a career in law enforcement. All from one event!
We received a lot of positive feedback about the event but we were limited to hosting the workshop for Sophomores only. What impact could we make in Tallahassee if all students got this information?
The James S. Rickards Student Body Cabinet will use all Awesome Project funds to host a series of Teens & the Law events for James S. Rickards and students from Godby, Lincoln, Leon and Chiles high schools. I have already received commitments from TPD, FAMU and FSU police departments, FDLE, ATF and NOBLE to be trainers and speakers for the event at no charge.
Funded by Tallahassee, FL (July 2015)