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New program seeks to increase number of women, minorities in public safety careers

Posted at 10:28 PM, Jun 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-18 23:22:39-04

CLEVELAND — For the next six weeks, 60 Cleveland high school students will learn all about careers in law enforcement through the public safety career pipeline summer program.

"The objective of the program is to increase the number of women and minorities in our public safety career fields," said program director Angela Bennett. "It's important to have our public safety forces reflect the community and right now that does not happen."

Zaharia Polk excelled in the program for three years, now she's heading to college, and eventually onto a career as a police officer.

"I want to start off as a police officer, then work my way into detective see how that is for a little bit and then work my way into FBI or SWAT," said Polk.

Many of the courses are taught by law enforcement officers. They'll learn all about the law, what it takes to be an officer and undergo all of the physical training. If the teens decide not to pursue a job in law enforcement that's OK.

"Absolutely not, it's not for me," said Carrington Manns, who participated in the program for two summers. "We did the training things, I am not an athletic person I couldn't do that on the daily but I still like to know more about different jobs and more about what different people do because I find it interesting."

"This is about helping the kids become the best version of themselves," said director Angela Bennett. "Helping them discover the gifts and the talents that they have within them that they didn't know they had."

All of the students get paid for their time so parents are happy they don't have to choose between a summer job and building life skills.

"It's very helpful and it actually keeps them out of the street and gives them positivity in regards to how to earn an income how to dress for interviews and actually building that resume for them," said parent Anthony Manns.

The program kicks off Monday and the students graduate August 1.