Facebook

Youth learn police aren't bad people, chief says it's the media

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Enlarge photo

Left to right: Lt. Jim Holcombe, Chief Dan Reynolds, Officer Shandrell Holcombe, School Resource Officers Ashley Wright (Greer Middle) and Joel Galli (Riverside Middle) presented certificates to the Youth Police Academy graduates.

Jim Fair

Left to right: Lt. Jim Holcombe, Chief Dan Reynolds, Officer Shandrell Holcombe, School Resource Officers Ashley Wright (Greer Middle) and Joel Galli (Riverside Middle) presented certificates to the Youth Police Academy graduates.



Enlarge photo

Graduates of the Greer Youth Police Department's summer class are now recognized as GYPD Class Echo.
 

Jim Fair

Graduates of the Greer Youth Police Department's summer class are now recognized as GYPD Class Echo.

 



Enlarge photo

The boys class was seated in the jury box at the Greer Municipal Complex courtroom.
 

Jim Fair

The boys class was seated in the jury box at the Greer Municipal Complex courtroom.

 



Enlarge photo

Witnesses at the inaugural graduation ceremony included family, government leaders and friends.
 

Jim Fair

Witnesses at the inaugural graduation ceremony included family, government leaders and friends.

 



Michael McDowell was among 14 middle school boys standing in the corridor of the Greer Municipal Complex courtroom.

“Look at him,” Brenda Lyle, his proud grandmother said. “He is standing straight, shoulders back and he has learned to sit proper.”

The boys commanded an audience comprised of the mayor, city council members, the police chief and rank and file members of the Greer Police Department.

Officer Shandrell Holcombe barked out orders, as the volunteer members of the inaugural Greer Youth Police Department summer camp, performed the precision-like graduation exercises and took their turn being acknowledged for pioneering the two-week camp. The group is now recognized as GYPD Class Echo.

Scores of family members – brothers and sisters, father and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers – attended what some hoped would be a life-changing event.

It was, according to Quantavious Cohen, rising 9th grader at Greer Middle School. “Later on in life I am thinking of becoming a police officer and I thought this would be a good opportunity to learn about police work.”

“The boys got to get a real look at the officers and learned the officers’ names,” Angie Childers said. “We had several classes pertinent to them wanting to become officers.” Childers, 2013 National Citizens Police Academy Alumnus of the Year, is the president of the GPD Alumni Association.

Christopher Perez Santana was the class leader and Cohen the assistant class leader, designated by the department’s camp officers. “We needed someone who would rally the kids around them,” Shandrell Holcombe said. “They have qualities that stand out, kind of like a squad leader in the military, and we had team events like a rope course they needed to be able to help others with.”

Ashley Wright and Joel Galli, School Resource Officers (SROs) at Greer Middle and Riverside Middle, respectively, presented the idea for a boys and girls youth academy. The girls’ academy is ongoing the next two weeks.

“Our school resource officers are one of the most valuable programs we have,” Chief Dan Reynolds said at the graduation ceremony. “People get to learn about the police, engage the police and talk to them and make friends with them at the school level.”

Santana laughed when he said it figured the boys’ weeks would be during the two hottest of the summer. “The very first day they took us to Greer Middle School and we had to run a half mile in the hot sun.”

“The improvement that we have seen, it started at the very end of the first week and it really kicked in the second week,” Galli said. “I don’t think we could have done it in a shorter time.”

“We took a couple of field trips we wanted to take,” Wright said. “We did the ropes course, firing range, visited the Greer Fire Department and did some physical activities.” Wright said the girls will go through the same process with some adjustments.

When the students return to school next month they will have a different relationship with the SROs, one of partnership.

Cohen said his message to his classmates will be, “More people should take this course and learn how to become a leader.”

Santana said, “We learned to work together and get our groups together, teamwork and do it right.”

Santana plays AAU basketball and Cohen will try out for the Greer varsity football team.

Santana said the camp gives him an opportunity to mentor his peers. “At school you kind of get elevated for making a bad name for yourself. Here, you get to be leaders in a positive way. We can take it back to school and be positive.

“We’re the first ones to do it and we did it right and didn’t fail. It makes you proud and makes you appreciate who you are,” Santana said.

Cohen also stated a message the police appeared intent on delivering. “In a time where police are looked at as bad, it shows that they are not as bad as you (media) all think of them,” he said. “They are good, have good personalities and they won’t do anything to people unless it’s an unreasonable situation.”

Reynolds, President of the South Carolina Police Chiefs Association, opened his remarks with a scathing attack of the media. “Our youth tend to get slammed by the media and others because only negative press involving our youth gets public attention.

“This program focuses on confidence of our youth and positive benefits they can take away. The positive things you do and positive characteristics … many of us, all we hear from the press is negative. Why? Because if it reads it bleeds (sic) and then it focuses on the negative because that is what the public wants to see,” Reynolds said.

“Very seldom do we get an opportunity to show the good things our youth accomplish,” Reynolds said. “Today, they will get a chance to do that and we’re very proud of these young men to spend two weeks here, out in the hot sun, running and doing whatever they were doing, while I was in my office with air conditioning.”

Santana said he learned, as a class leader, “That it was time for us to stand up and be leaders. We learned about police work, court and how to become a better member of the police force. It showed us that how you respect other people is how they learn to respect you.”

Lyle, observing McDowell interacting with his academy classmates said, “I think this helped with a lot of things. It gave the boys opportunities to learn about the police department. It’s a lot more than you think. I am glad they had this for the boys.”

The 2015 Youth Citizen’s Police Academy graduates:

Christopher Perez Santana, class leader

Quantavious Cohen, assistant class leader

Jacob Barnett, most outstanding

Nicholas Yonkin, most improved

Drew Childers, academic

Michael Alexander

Judah Caraway

Kevin Colon Echevarria

Kenny Colon Echevarria

Mike McDowell

Dylan Sheltra

Najawuan Smith

Giovanny Suarez

David Trevino

 

Share



Related Photo Galleries


Leave a Comment



Trending: Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, Obituaries, Chon Restaurant, Allen Bennett Hospital

GREER CALENDAR

View All Events