LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Nearly 100 Clark County students spent their Saturday morning learning the trade of law enforcement.
Students from third to fifth grade and sixth to twelfth grade heard from officers and judges, analyzed crime data, and dusted fingerprints.
“We’re trying to break down barriers in the community, and it helps,” Walt Walters, who is on the board of directors at the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Foundation said. “They see that we’re all human beings. We have more in common than less.”
For the third year, the LVMPD Foundation brought students together for its youth summit at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Their theme this year was law enforcement.
There were about 95 kids who showed up to participate, some of the children say it was their first direct interaction with a police officer.
“I was kind of scared of police. I didn’t know. I thought they were going to arrest me or something because if I didn’t listen to my mom,” Tao Mai, a seventh grader at Coral Academy of Science Las Vegas said. “But now I know more about the community. About what they could do to help. What we can do to help.”
That’s the reason why organizers say it’s important to host the youth summit and expose children early to law enforcement.
“So kids could see, the cops are okay. And the cops can see that the kids are okay. That relationship, I think in the future, for that young man or young woman will solve a lot of problems for them,” Walters said.
The children explored all aspects of law enforcement, including legal careers, working as a detective, and being a patrol officer.
“So that’s how we start right? Just through conversation, engagement, and their presence,” Devan Harris, the associate director for early outreach at UNLV said.
The foundation aims for these children to become the next generation of leaders in law enforcement in Clark County.
For some of the kids, however, that’s not why they attended. Just ask Lynch Elementary fifth grader William Perez Garcia.
“I’m most excited about the eating part. I’m really excited for what’s going to be on. Maybe some pizza,” Garcia said.