Law enforcement agencies work to build lasting relationships with students

Multiple agencies teamed up with around fifty students from across North Central Florida for the 2018 BLAST program.

"Today's going good, I walked in and saw a lot of faces, new people, and interacted with a lot of officers, that's new for me," said Eastside student James Freeney.

With four break-out sessions, the goal of this year's program was to show teens a day in the life of an officer or deputy.
"Students get to roleplay as police officers, they get to stand in the shoes of police officers, and see what it's really like going through these scenarios," said the Northern Florida U.S. District Attorney, Chirs Canova.
The domestic violence skits, a federal crime session, traffic stop scenarios, and shoot or don't shoot simulations were designed to show students how and why officials make the decisions they do.

"It's not easy like you have to be able to react but not react too quick or react too slow," said P.K. Yonge student, Taylor Dupuis.

Not every speaker in attendance was a law enforcement officer.

James Darby says he was in prison for nine and a half years before he got on the right path.

"No matter where you come from or the choices you've made, if you're standing here today you got a chance to change everything you just went through, I'm living proof," said Darby.

Whether it was an interactive exhibit or an inspiring speaker that got the students' attention, they left with a new perspective on their friends in blue.