- Associated Press - Sunday, July 3, 2016

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) - Jordyn Surratt, 17, chose a path very different from her parents.

With her parents incarcerated, she chose to participate in Winston-Salem Police Department’s Youth Citizens’ Police Academy to learn about the other side of the law.

“I can do something different instead of going down (my parents’) path,” Surratt said.

The Youth Citizens’ Police Academy is a weeklong program the police department holds each summer.

Officer Claudia Morgan, who is in charge of the academy, said it gives the city’s youth a chance to see what police work and the department are all about.

“We’re trying to get the youth more interested in police work and seeing the big picture,” Morgan said. “We also want to build a rapport with them.”

The program consists of a forensics workshop where participants get to lift fingerprints and identify shoe prints; take part in firearm simulation training; watch canine and SWAT demonstrations; and carry out a service project.

This year, the participants served dinner at Samaritan Ministries.

“It showed me not to take what I have for granted and that helping others and putting others before yourself is the most important,” Surratt said.

Ethan Frye, 16, said the academy continued his interest in forensics.

“I wanted to find out more about (forensics) and what it is a police officer does,” he said.

Frye,who attends Yadkin Early College, said the academy has increased his interest in forensics and police work.

It’s been an awesome experience,” he said. “It’s opened my eyes to how officers really help.”

Lizbeth Nonje, 15, a student at Parkland Magnet High School, was not really sure what she wanted to do as a career. Her week at the youth academy made her certain. She said the academy helped her realize she wants to be a police officer.

“I feel like what I really want to do is help other people and help the community,” she said.

Nonje, a native of Honduras, has always had a passion for helping people so when she heard about the academy through a friend, she was excited to learn more about the police department.

“People just post so much bad stuff about police on social media, but I think everyone should do the academy because it’s a good opportunity to learn about the police,” she said. “They are there to support their community.”

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Information from: Winston-Salem Journal, http://www.journalnow.com

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