PHOENIX — These students may still be years away from a driver's license, but the Phoenix Police Department has started their learning well before they get behind the wheel.
Operation Safe Roads spent the morning with kids as they wrapped up their time at the Phoenix Police Youth Experience Summer Camp. This day's focus was on traffic education.
Participant Addison Smith made it very clear. He is 11 and a half years old.
"Being drunk is very weird," Smith, who is about 9 and a half years away from the legal drinking age, laughed. "It felt like you were big or small or like everything was small around you or like you couldn't focus on anything."
His experience was with "drunk goggles." It gives a glimpse into what could happen if he or the participants here made the decision to drink alcohol or consume drugs and then hop in the driver's seat. In this case, it was a tricycle ride.
The Phoenix Police Foundation hosted the week-long event to wrap up the summer break to help students learn safe road habits and show how difficult it is to text and talk while on the road. The Mountain View Precinct also gave 7th- and 8th-graders a peek at cop cars and SWAT vehicles to show what tools are used during a traffic stop.
"We're in a non-enforcement environment," said Phoenix Police Foundation President Timothy Thomas. "The kids get to meet with officers. They get to talk to them. They get to have real conversations."
Thomas told ABC15 that students are exposed to different areas of the department with possible careers -- everything from canine work to traffic safety, and even forensics.
"They've talked about how their kids will sit down at dinner time and have a conversation about how excited they were about what they learned for the day and what they're going to learn the following day," said Officer Mary Roestenberg.
The department hopes it is something the participants will remember as they grow up with a career or just something they think about on their commute in our community.
"I have a lot of appreciation for officers because they keep my school safe and everywhere I go safe and especially my mom because she keeps me safe," said Smith. "She's a police officer."
Organizers said to keep an eye out for their camps for next summer. The program began back in 2015 and runs on donations to the Phoenix Police Foundation.
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