A pilot program at Washington High School in Phoenix is exposing students to careers in law enforcement -- and opening their minds.
"I hope all the other schools get to experience it," said Senior Deroiza Lara-Ruiz, a senior who admits the class changed her perspective on police.
"A lot of people think cops are there to use force and to arrest people but, apart from that, they're there to help you," she said.
Washington is a Title I school. The student body is diverse and many come from low-income families.
"We do some of the marching and the drill that would happen at the academy -- so, [we] try to instill in them some type of discipline," said teacher Lauri Burgett, who retired in March as a Phoenix police commander after thirty years with the department.
Burgett said the school and district were looking for ways to offer more career and technical education. She was hired to launch the course.
"It's a way to humanize police officers and to talk about how they have to make quick decisions," she said. "But, also, for the police officers to learn what the students are thinking."
Active officers in various roles stop by throughout the semester.
Burgett and Washington High School partnered with NAU to expose students to additional law enforcement opportunities.
NAU will host a career fair open to the public from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, October 21st, at its North Valley Campus -- 15451 N. 28th Avenue in Phoenix.
Recruiters from the following agencies will be in attendance:
- AZ Department of Corrections
- AZ Dept. of Juvenile Corrections
- AZ Department of Public Safety
- Chandler Police Department
- Coconino County Sheriff’s Dept.
- Customs & Border Protection
- Drug Enforcement Administration
- Flagstaff Police Department
- Gila River Dept. of Corrections
- Mesa Police Department
- Glendale Police Department
- Maricopa County Adult Probation
- Maricopa County Juvenile Probation
- Peoria Police Department
- Phoenix Police Department
- Scottsdale Police Department
- Tucson Police Department
- United States Air Force
- Yavapai County Sheriffs