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Thomasville Police Department will be going back to the classroom next month in an effort to build relationships with some of Thomasville’s young citizens. Thomasville Police Chief Troy Rich says this is due, in part, to the 21st Century Policing Initiative. “As part of the 21st Century Policing Initiative in building trust and legitimacy with our community, this Initiative was developed to enhance our relationships with our young adults,” Chief Rich stated.

Officers will be visiting Thomasville High School classes in November to speak with 11th and 12th graders about the importance of positive encounters with law enforcement. TPD officials say that educating our youth and building these relationships early is important to the overall mission of the department.

“We’re visiting 11th and 12th grade students specifically, because we know that as new drivers, they will be out driving around our community,” said Captain Maurice Holmes with the Thomasville Police Department. “Many students this age are new to driving and most likely have little experience with the procedures of routine traffic stops. These presentations give us all an opportunity to talk about these types of encounters so that they are much easier for the student. Talking now will hopefully help them to understand the importance of compliance when interacting with law enforcement in these types of situations.”

Holmes said that oftentimes, youth have personally witnessed or seen negative police encounters on the news. Unfortunately, those types of experiences can affect the way they feel about police officers,” he said. “TPD wants to change that perception by showing our youth what these types of encounters are like from a police officer’s perspective. The goal is to work together now to ensure compliance and understanding of all parties later.”

During the presentations, students will participate in demonstrations such as mock traffic stops where they will play the role of officer. “This allows our students to see the other side of the encounter, and better understand from an officer’s perspective, their risks when performing a traffic stop,” Holmes said. Along with the demonstration, Holmes said there are video examples showing both positive and negative interactions between officers and citizens. “These videos show the difference that compliance and understanding can make during an interaction with law enforcement, and how non-compliance can negatively escalate a situation.”

With each presentation, the floor is opened for a question and answer session, promoting an open and honest conversation between the students and officers. Holmes said holding meetings like this with our local youth helps to build trusting relationships. “Building meaningful relationships with our community, starting at a young age, helps to reinforce positive relationships as they become adults and active members of our society,” he said. Chief Rich added that learning from presentations such as this can be beneficial for a student throughout their adult lives. “Following these basic requirements can be used in any city, county, or state for a successful and positive police encounter each and every time.”

The Positive Police Encounter presentations will be held for participating classes at Thomasville High School on November 5th and 6th. For more information, please call the Thomasville Police Department at 229-227-3249.