Program helps Greensboro police connect with children

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Seventeen-year-old Sam Jackson is taking the first step towards fulfilling his lifelong dream.

"Since I was like five, I wanted to be a police officer or in the FBI,” Jackson said.

Some of his main interests are forensics and ballistics.

“Going to a crime scene, telling where a shooter was standing,” he said.

He's one of more than 15 young people part of Greensboro Police Department’s Law Enforcement Explorer program.

It started in the 1950s and has gone on for decades.

"The program was designed in those days for recruiting young officers,” said Greensboro police Chief Wayne Scott. “The relaunch is a little different."

After a 17-year break, Scott says they're bringing it back, not only to help keep teens on the right path but to also break down walls between police and the community.

"We believe that that's the age to get in and have positive interaction," Scott said. "Particularly, the younger folks are seeing tidbits of what police do, they see a little bit on social media and YouTube, but we believe that the key there is to show them that we are human. We're just like you."

Scott hopes bridging that gap will lead to less crime.

"We begin to build relationships in communities that at least help us solve crimes faster," he said.

The program is open to ages 14 to 21 and involves meeting once a month for lectures, community drives, and interning in different parts of the police department.

"Learning how to be a professional, how to handle yourself in this community, how to be a leader,” Scott said.

Explorer Dyllan Key says it's good training for her career in service.

"I want to go into the air force,” said the 15-year-old. “This was a good way to get a head start."

The explorer program is just one of the ways police are trying to engage youth.

Officers will start a program called Students Overcoming Situations working with first and fifth graders -- along with therapy dogs.

Learn more here.