ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A group of aspiring law enforcement officials spent the week learning the ins and outs of policing from Rockford Park District officers.
“We give them what we’re allowed to do, and each bad person depending, on what the event or crime is, dictates what the police officer has to do to get that situation under control,” explained Chief Theo Glover of the Rockford Park District Police Department.
Nearly $700,000 was awarded to the Park District for youth violence prevention programming after teen robberies in the city went up 100% in just one year.
Chief Glover says the program is designed to teach kids how to be productive.
“Our message is that there are positive things that you can be doing, rather than being around a lot of the negative things that are going on,” said Glover. “Sometimes these kids, who are really good kids, are pulled into bad situations.”
11-year-old Aarin participated in the academy in hopes of learning more about how to protect and serve, “I would recommend [the program] for people who really need help, like therapy. If you need to talk to people, you can talk to police officers or other first responders.”
The Park District will utilize the remaining state funding for other programs and outreach efforts through June of next year. During that time, organizers hope to reach 5,000 at-risk youth between the ages of eight and 18.