ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) - There's never been a doubt in Jake Yancey's mind about what he wanted to do with his life.
"For as long as I can remember, I'd see a police car go by and say, 'I want to do that,'" Yancey said.
At 14, he became a Police Explorer with the St. Pete Police Department. The program gives young people a way to go behind the scenes and learn what it's like to be a real officer. The St. Pete native went all-in, and his attendance was perfect.
"Throughout my whole time, I was dead-set on my goal to become a police officer, and whatever I had to do to meet that goal," Yancey said.
Fast forward to the present and we find Jake Yancey being sworn in as a St. Pete Police Officer. The ceremony was Wednesday.
After shaking hands with Chief Holloway, his boyhood dream became reality.
"I've been on this long chapter. Now, the journey is complete. I get to start on the new one," he said.
But that new journey comes at a time when the national conversation about law enforcement revolves around use of force and community relationships. And in the wake of some high-profile, targeted police shootings, the importance and pressure of his life choice is not lost on Yancey.
"Of course we leave the house knowing we might not come back. We leave our house worried. All of us are here, willing to do the job," he said.
St. Pete Police Department lost three of its own officers while Yancey was in the Explorer Program. The department added only a small percentage of those who go through the Police Explorer program become officers as adults.