INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 14, 2015) – The Speedway Police Department is launching a student academy to help police officers and teenagers build positive relationships. A school resource officer is leading the project and working closely with the Speedway School Corporation.
Officer Mark Jones has been on the police force for about 30 years. He said he considered starting a student academy for years but recent events in places like Baltimore and Ferguson made him realize now was the right time to get the program going.
“I think that in the media we have seen a lot of bad publicity about police officers,” Jones said. “I think it’s important that we just get together and talk. Come to the table and talk about our problems, our issues and understand each other. ”
Seventeen students are currently signed up for the academy, which starts on June 8. Members of the SWAT team, K-9 Unit, Crime Lab and even the Prosecutor’s Office will be speaking to the academy participants to help them better understand how law enforcement works. Jones said there are long-term benefits to this sort of program.
“Speedway is a small community,” Jones said. “I think that it speaks loudly if we go on a, whether it’s a domestic run or whatever the case may be, if an officer shows up and that student is familiar with that officer, automatically you have a rapport going. We can get that person to open up a little bit, which will be beneficial to us and hopefully in turn, you know, help them in the process.”
Jones recruited some teachers to assist with the academy, including Dr. Michelle Jackson.
“I think especially in times like these, a lot of students feel like the police are out to get them,” Jackson said. “We want to make sure we sever that and we want to make sure we build bonds with the police department because we are a community. Speedway is a very small community and we interact all the time. I think it’s great for the students to be able to see the police in a different light.”
At the end of the academy in late June, students will take part in a ceremony to mark their completion of the program. The first academy is full but Officer Jones said he wants to make this an ongoing project.