Nassau County teens attended a Youth Police Academy on Saturday where they witnessed law enforcement tactics and heard from the top brass about making the right choices.
The one-day program, held several times a year, aims to expose students in minority and at-risk communities to the realities of police work with the goal of improving police relations with the community.
In addition, Nassau County police officials say they hope they can persuade some of the youths to pursue a career in law enforcement.
This academy hosted 22 students from Uniondale High School as well as about 20 people from the Special Needs Unit of the Police Athletic League.
“If we don’t build relationships when they are young, we can face problems later,” said Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder, who addressed the group at the Nassau County Police Academy in Massapequa Park.
Ryder said he cautioned the young people against being lured into gangs and criminal behavior, believing such activities are a shortcut to money and friends.
He talked about a young person who got lured into selling drugs.
“He ended up with 20 years in jail,” Ryder said. “And everything he had gotten with drug money, all his assets, we took them.”
He added, “He made the wrong choices.”