Students see world through deputies' eyes

Kimberly Kuizon reports

- It's an intense and eye-opening experience for students in Sarasota County: Middle and high school students spend the day with Sarasota deputies, walking in their shoes.

"Some of these are kind of crazy," said 13-year-old Aaliyaa Genat.

Each student is handpicked.  Many are leaders in service clubs or school activities.

Deputies are hopeful they will spread the message of what they are learning to their classmates.

"As a rookie, for me, basically I didn't know what I was doing at first," said 16-year-old Jamilah Walker.

They conduct mock traffic stops, and respond to domestic calls -- even heroin overdoses.  

The Rightful Policing Strategy Workshop is a day for kids to understand how and why deputies react the way they do. In today's day and age, it's a priceless lesson.

"After all the scenarios on TV and different stuff, I was like 'I don't really like the police,'" said Jamilah.

That is a statement that deputies have heard all too often from kids and teenagers.

"They  have opinions, which we understand. We see it and we get frustrated because we don't understand why," said Captain John Walsh.

By the time their day is up, deputies say, they often see a complete turnaround in many of those opinions.

"It's made it simpler to understand and I think they can actually have context when they didn't have context before," said Walsh.

Some, like Jamilah Walker, now plan on pursuing a career in law enforcement.

"It has given me a great perspective on their life and what they do," she offered.

Deputies hope students will walk away with lessons that will far outstretch one day.

"They are out there risking their lives every day for you to be safe and for you to have a comfortable environment and for everything to run smoothly in the community," added Aliyah Cunningham.  "You really appreciate what they do even more when you have to go through it yourself."

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