(Crystal A. Proxmire, June 11, 2017)
Madison Heights, MI – Madison Heights Police have these goggles that make it seem like the person wearing them is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. That combined with a simple bicycle skills course made for a memorable experience to teach young people about the risk of driving while intoxicated.
The demo was part of a Bike Rodeo and Open House for the police department held Saturday at the station. “We love our community,” said Police Chief Corey Haines. “This is one of the ways we show that police are not apart from the community, they are a part of it.”
Chief Haines said nurturing relationships with the public is a year-round job, including working with the school districts to do presentations for students, donating a limo ride to prom to help keep kids safe, and working to do more with social media.
There is also a Police Officer Explorers program for youth ages 14-21 who want to learn about the job of being a police officer. This program is a great warm up for those going into law enforcement, politics or law. Advisor Michelle Spiruda loves running the program. “It’s hard right now for cities to find police officers. There’s this idea that kids don’t want to grow up to go into law enforcement anymore. There’s a lot of peer pressure not to talk to police or to be in a program like this. But being a police officer is a great way to help people. You meet a lot of people and there is a lot to be proud of. Even if they decide that law enforcement is not right for them, Explorers helps them get that experience, and helps them stay out of trouble.”
The program is open to youth from any community, and several cities view this experience as helpful as they find recruits. “Hazel Park, Madison Heights and the State Police all have people who went though Explorers when they were younger,” Spiruda said.
Saturday’s event also included free bicycle helmets and bike safety inspections. And there were tours of the police station.
Jennifer and Brian Basgall brought their boys for the tour. “I think it helps keep them in line,” Brian said. “They saw the jail and said ‘I don’t want to spend a night in jail.’ Plus we’ve got one that wants to be a firefigher and another that wants to be a cop. So it’s good for them to see this stuff up close.”
Learn more about the Madison Heights Police Department at http://www.madison-heights.org/police_department/. For more on the Explorers program, message firstname.lastname@example.org.