Bridges student Angel Carreo has been participating in the LAPD’s Junior Cadet Program since he was 9 years old. Now that he’s 13, he’s practically a veteran. His mom heard about the program when the Olympic Community Police Station was built near his house and now he and his older brother are both cadets. The cadets learn the ins and outs of being a police officer, including how a police station functions, how to work as a cohesive unit, the importance of obeying parents and elders, and discipline. They learn discipline by participating in military-style drills and sometimes there’s time for team games like dodgeball and capture the flag. The cadets are occasionally tested on the police codes and procedures they learn, and the top students are rewarded with field trips that include bowling, horseback riding and trips to Disneyland. Angel is a top performer and has been on many of the field trips.
For Angel, participating in the program has dispelled many of the stereotypes surrounding the police that are especially pervasive in low-income neighborhoods. He now feels that he has a more positive view of police officers and he takes the time to share his experiences with friends and peers to try to make his neighborhood a safer place to live.
Although Angel wants to become a computer engineer rather than a policeman when he grows up, he wouldn’t rule out being a computer engineer for the LAPD!