FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WOWO) Fort Wayne United and the Fort Wayne Police Department held a student workshop to help build stronger relationships with the community.
Wednesday morning, several students from North Side High School attended the workshop at the Public Safety Academy on the south side of town. Students were put in various situations as police officers to help them better understand what it is like to be in their shoes.
Officer Sonia Atienzo, a staff instructor at the academy, says “I wanted to give them a better understanding of why we do what we do and how things can happen so fast.” She feels that maybe it would give them a different perspective and then they would understand what they go through as police officers.
Atienzo says they are here to protect the community and that “we need to start bridging that gap and that relationship of “How can we help you?” and “Here is how you can help us.”
Students were put in different situations of what it is like to do a traffic stop and domestic situations. In the situations, the kids were officers and officers were the citizens. An actual officer would tell them what they would do as an officer then they would act out the situation. Students were unable to predict how the perpetrator would act. Some had to react quickly and pull their “training weapons.” They had to handle whatever was given to them. It allowed them to better understand why police officers do some of the things that they do.
Atienzo says that it also helps them as police officers, learn about situations that they may not think of on the job.
Captain Mitchell McKinney says there certain pillars that the police department needs to work on to gain trust, “We need to give the community a voice, be fair and impartial in our decision making and we have to be neutral and that’s going to gain trust.”