KILLEEN, TX — Killeen police launched a new public safety camp to give kids an inside look at what it’s like to be an officer and firefighter.
“I’m very excited for the kids and the community, because I believe this is a program that’s not going to stay small, it’s going to get bigger and bigger,” said Julian Martinez, Killeen Police Child Safety Coordinator.
For the first time, 120 students will learn first hand from officers. The KPD Law Enforcement Explorer Program will be pitching in to help facilitate the week-long program. The program consists of a group of teens who have an interest in law enforcement.
“Without this program you wouldn’t really have the same stepping stone. As you would otherwise in this program and see if it’s really a fit,” said Alore Franklin, 17, a KPD Law Enforcement Explorer Program.
The camp fosters relationships between police and area youth.
“A lot of people in our society don’t have a great viewpoint of officers. So if us teens or kids around Killeen, Texas, are showing that wow, we can have a great relationship with other officers in the community or other communities, that’s going to make a better viewpoint for others, I guess, around the world,” said Elora Shoaf, 16, a KPD Law Enforcement Explorer Program.
The program exposes children to the realities of working in the many paths within law enforcement.
There is a nationwide officer shortage. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that 700,000 officers are working in the United States. This is a sharp decline of about 23,000 officers since 2013. But programs like these help introduce youth to the life behind the badge.
“We want our kids to get involved in law enforcement. Law enforcement is an honorable career and we want to make sure that they’re invested in that as well. Whatever way we can capture their minds in it,” said Martinez.
The fire department will be presenting to campers on Tuesday.