“This is our future,” Allen Medley said pointing to the rows of cadets who had minutes before marched into the room with military precision. The roomful of friends and family in the Daleville Cultural and Convention Center burst into applause.

Medley is the Daleville Department of Public Safety Chief. He is among the first responders who conducted the Fourth Annual DPS Junior Police Academy. “I love this job, I love what I do,” Medley said as he welcomed those attending the graduation ceremony at the end of the two-week academy July 17. “I can’t think of anything else that I’d rather do—because this is our future.”

Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Department of Public Safety Director Col. Charles Ward agreed. “This is a game changer,” the Ozark native told the graduates. “You could be doing anything else in the world but y’all are here. I was overjoyed to be asked to come here because this is a great day to celebrate what y’all have accomplished.”

The two-week intensive training program designed to introduce teens to the inside operations of the police, rescue and fire departments is hosted by the Daleville Department of Public Safety for youth between the ages of 13 and 18.

The program is designed to engage the youth in real-world scenarios and instruction on the different roles that a public safety officer takes in the community, according to DPS Sgt. Ashely Paul, who coordinated this year’s event. “It also allows them to get a realistic and hands on approach about how the public safety department fulfills its mission every day to keep our citizens safe,” he explained.

The 70-hour program is offered free of charge to the attendees because of the generosity of community businesses and individuals, Paul said.

Ward gave kudos to Medley and the city of Daleville for initiating the academy concept. “You are so much ahead because this is a partnership with youth in the community,” Ward said. “They are our future. This will pay dividends in the future for this great community.”

Jordan Johnson and Emma Lafferty were recognized as the male and female top achievers, respectively. in the physical fitness category.

Jacob Wofford and Veronica Tillman were recognized for their achievement as the top male and female shooter.

Mason Roberts was recognized as the Overall Best Cadet.

Raymond McGoley was presented the Chief’s Award.

Graduates of the 2020 DPS Junior Police Academy are Orion Monday, Kerri Smith, Mason Roberts, Addison Grubbs, Trey Peters, Aubrie Kaufman, Abigail Griffin, Dakota Adkison, Alina McKnight, Abby Yaronczyk, Emma Lafferty, Miles, Polson, Robert Campbell, Ely Sikes, William Grantham, Trenton Martin, Jacob Wofford, Jordan Lowe, Raymond McGoley, Veronica Tillman, Jamie Hodye, Jordan Johnson and Mason Lafferty.

“We are in a society where people hate folks and they don’t even know why they hate them. They are shooting at first responders, firemen, paramedics, police because they get caught up in social media not knowing the whole truth,” Ward said to the graduates. “Are there bad law enforcement officers? Yes, but it doesn’t make up for but about 1 percent of law across this great country.

“That leaves 99 percent of law enforcement that are good, caring, compassionate people. Always remember that,” Ward said. “That’s what this program is all about, having that relationship with law enforcement. Take what you learn and always be a good citizen.

“It is never, ever a good time to do the wrong thing,” Ward stressed. “No matter what it costs you, always always do the right thing.

“We talk about peer pressure and usually it’s in the negative but I want to encourage you to be the peer pressure to encourage others around you to always do the right thing,” Ward said. “You be the game changer. Keep yourself pure. Somebody is going to do the right thing because of your influence.

“Always remember that your true power comes from the Lord. He’s watched over me my whole 35 year career,” Ward told the youth. “Knowledge is power. Don’t believe everything you see on social media. Set your sight and don’t let anybody discourage you. You might hit stumbling blocks but you pick up and you keep going.

“I still give it my all every day,” the law enforcement officer with nearly four decades under his belt said. “Do not ever, ever quit.”

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