BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — Six high schoolers in Bloomington-Normal traded in their textbooks for a day with first responders.
It’s part of the city’s youth enrichment program; throughout the summer, the teens spend time learning how the city works.
Friday, the students learned the ropes of what firefighters and police officers encounter on a daily basis.
“This gives me a better understanding of how police officers and firefighters will be able to interact with the community,” said Bradley Ross-Jackson.
The program exposes teens to local government and shows them how it operates in various departments. Bradley Ross-Jackson spent his summer with the IT department.
“It has been a great experience for me as last year, I was able to work in several departments such as public works, police department and a few others,” Ross-Jackson said.
Friday, being shown the daily duties of Bloomington’s firefighters and Bloomington’s police department.
“We show mock traffic stops where they get to play both driver and what to expect when you get pulled over,” said police sergeant Kiel Nowers.
Officers also showed them K-9 retrievals, drug dog sniffing and put the students through mock 911 calls and taught them how to respond and why.
“Everybody needs to know these kinds of things and officers always do, it’s just not very often that citizens get an opportunity to get to see these kinds of things from the inside,” Nowers said.
Nowers said programs like these help bridge the gap between the community and officers.
“Community engagement is exactly what we’re really trying to improve upon at the Bloomington Police Department, and this gives us a tremendous opportunity to reach a whole group of people who don’t often have a lot of interaction with police, especially positive interaction with police,” Nowers said.
Students said it gives them an experience they can use in their futures.
“I plan to go into psychology, so I would use it just to know like the different anti-biotics and like especially trauma that people might have gone through,” said high school senior, Amaya Hursey.
The city also hosts these sessions for adults called Bloomington 101 taking place every Thursday night from September through October.