First-ever Youth Police Engagement Academy underway in Danville

Three-week academy designed to help police, kids connect

DANVILLE, Va. – A medicine ball relay inside the gym at Langston High School in Danville is helping 40 kids ages 10 to 16 build rapport with Danville police officers.

It's a workout that's as fun as it is beneficial for both the officers and the kids, like 11-year-old Taliyah Neal.

"When you come, it just makes you want to learn and do activities instead of sitting in the house and not doing anything," Neal said. "It's good to be around the police so you know what to do and what not to do."

Officer Sylvia Brooks is coordinating the Youth Police Engagement Academy.

"If we build relationships now, that'll lower problems later on, like crime, robbery, fights and all kinds of stuff," Brooks said. "This is so beneficial here. Chief Scott Booth had this vision and he came in and he told us about this. He wanted youth engagement. It's really a good thing for Danville."

On Tuesday, Brooks invited Robert Marshall, the CEO of a local organization called Track Dad 6, to come in and lead the kids through some exercises and agilities.

"We're just here just doing what we can to make a difference and make some kids happy," Marshall said.

He also talked to the kids about proper nutrition.

A healthy discussion helping build a healthy relationship between the police department and the city's youth.

Brooks said initially, the plan was to only have 30 kids in the camp, but there was so much interest that registration was expanded to 40 kids.

Even so, there is still a waiting list.

"There's not always positive things attached to the police. Every day, somebody's calling me. 'Did somebody drop out, did somebody drop out?' So it's been really, really humbling," Brooks said.

To get on the waiting list for the academy, contact Brooks at the police department at 434-799-6510.

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