Detroit MI Sept 23 2015 The Detroit Police Department at the beginning of this school year rolled out a new law enforcement training program at two Detroit high schools.
Detroit Police Chief James Craig, who announced the program alongside Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan Monday, said the "police magnet" program is something he came across while working for the Los Angeles Police Department, where Craig spent most of his career.
"Our goal is to arm our youth with tools that will prove to be edifying throughout life in addition to providing a safe environment," police said in a statement Sunday.
The three-year program will begin with 50 10th-grade students from Cody High School, a Detroit public school, and University Prep Academy, a charter school.
As they move onto 11th grade, fifty more students will begin the program each year until 150 are in the rotation.
David Foster, a 15-year-old sophomore started the program this year. He plans to attend college for a four-year degree and wants a career in federal law enforcement.
He attends one hour of instruction daily and has a physical training class each Friday and hopes to obtain a paid internship with the department this summer.
Students are exposed to department procedures, police ethics and some tactics.
Craig said the main goal is to create lasting relationships with Detroit's young people and to entice local residents to pursue law enforcement careers.
"It really is a direct line into the Police Department," Craig said.
Craig would like to see the program expand but says the funding isn't currently available.
"My goal when I get out of high school is to start my own security company," said Christopher Taylor, a sophomore at Cody Academy of Public Leadership. Another student, Tia, said she wants the be a police officer. "I think there should be more representatives from our community," she said.
About 62 percent of the Detroit police force is black, while nearly 85 percent of the residents are black.
Duggan said it's about creating "paths of opportunity," and referenced 5,600 jobs offered to youths through the city, including the police department this summer.
The Detroit Fire Department is also offering a curriculum targeting youth that allows participants to obtain EMT certification and an inside track to employment with the Fire Department.