GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) Almost 100 high school students in the Gainesville area came out to East Side High School to build relationships with local law enforcement through the blast program.
“What blast does is put the kids in a scenario into positions that would be normally for law enforcement, so we want them to understand is that behind those badges, and in those uniforms are real people,” said Gregory Pelham, case manager for ACSO Teen Court.
The volunteer program is made up of all the Gainesville high schools and community based agencies, like the Gainesville Police Department’s Hero Program, and the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office Teen Court Program.
“Sometimes kids may have not have any encounters before with a law enforcement officer, or had a negative conotation before with a law enforcement officer so this is a chance for them to come together in a low stress setting to meet officers and learn that officers are people too,” said Amy Alexander, PIO For U.S. Attorney’s Office For Northern Florida District.
“I learned how serious situations can get, when stuff like that happens, and it gets like really intense and really serious,” said Gabrielle Mitchell, Blast Program Attendee.
The program has 5 different stations: a federal crime scenario, a traffic street stop simulation, a home and domestic response, a fish and wildlife demonstration, and a firearm simulator.