DENTON (CBSDFW.COM) – This is much more than a normal summer for some north Texas students.
A group of them in Denton are spending their days with police officers willing to teach them some important life lessons. It may seem like an unlikely gathering for kids in the summer – getting lectured by Denton Police.
“At first I thought it was going to be a waste of my time. That I was going to be bored,” shared Branden Mendez.
But the School Resource Officers are teaching lessons not contained within four walls.
“Now I know it’s fun and I’m actually enjoy coming to this, having different activities every day, and hanging out with different people,” said Mendez.
In 2010, the SRO’s created the Denton Police Youth Summer Program.
“They started seeing that some of these kids that they had contact with and mentored in the schools, were starting to get in trouble,” said Sgt. Keith Olson.
Without the program, the summer looked bleak for many of these middle schoolers. But now, they’re reaching new heights, and taking part in activities like rock climbing and basketball.
“This is a confidence builder, and it builds teamwork,” said Officer Patrick Black.
Black and the other SRO’s are a blend of mentor, father figure, and friend. He has helped transform Jhonathan Vasquez, who says he had problems in middle school. Vasquez was in the program 6 years, and now wants to be a Texas State Trooper.
The program is a way to see officers in a new light.
“In my neighborhood, some of us didn’t like cops,” admitted Terrance Thomas. “We thought they didn’t help much, but now I feel a lot different.”
The SRO’s pick kids from their schools to participate and there’s also a high school program, and a program for girls.