NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Metro Nashville Police Department wants their new officers better trained and more comfortable when dealing with kids and teens in the community.
For the second time this year, new trainees have to shadow student resources officers at public high schools and middle schools in Nashville for one week. The program is part of a six-month long field training after the academy.
MNPD Field Training Officer Coordinator Sgt. Paul Goebel said the goal is to engage with the community and build relationships, while learning the school system.
"They shadow with the SRO's who are some of the most hardworking and dedicated officers in the department," Goebel said. "They're learn some of the things like alternatives to an arrest, and really how to engage and communicate especially with the youth."
There are 51 trainees who are assigned to schools in the community they are patrolling including 24-year-old Malik Burriss. He gets to follow the two SRO's at Cane Ridge High School in Antioch, the same school he graduated from in 2013.
NewsChannel 5 followed him one morning as he walked alongside the SRO's and engage in conversations with students who flocked to him with questions. Burriss was an athlete in high school and focused his studies around criminal justice.
"It feels good in a way because it feels like I'm giving back to the community," Burriss said. "I want to know how the youth feels about us to help me police in a better way when I'm out on the field."
Cane Ridge High School Assistant Principal James Reese agrees with the program amid juvenile crimes becoming an issue in our city. The number of 13-year-old kids in Nashville charged with violent crimes nearly doubled last year.
Reese believes involving new officers in schools so early on in their career can be a valuable lesson for them and the students.
"It gives them an opportunity to create relationships with these kids and real experience as far as how it works in the school," Reese said.
Goebel said in the last session, officers were able to see the children in the community that they were patrolling or when responding to calls.