Students get real world experience with Criminal Justice Competition

EATON COUNTY, MI. (WILX) - In this edition of Schools Rule, WILX News 10 is asking you to think back to when you were in high school-did you know what you wanted to be for your future career?

Eaton and Clinton County RESA's Criminal Justice Competition gives students the chance to try out their future careers-before even graduating high school.

"When I first started I was nervous but when I got into it it felt like no one was here and it was just natural for me," said Marquis Washington.

Washington is a senior at Eastern High School and once he graduates, he knows exactly what he wants to be doing.

"I've got a job at the East Lansing Police Department and I'm in the explorer post at the LPD," explained Washington.

Right now he's also enrolled in the Law Enforcement Program with Eaton and Clinton County RESA. He and his classmates say, the lessons they've been learning all school year are the same ones they will put in to practice as officers.

"This is wonderful practice for the future," said Washington. "Every time I do something like this I always think, 'I'm not doing this for real right now.' But I can't wait until that time comes and I'm actually making a real traffic stop for a real department."

"You always have to watch their hands so they're not reaching for stuff," said Alex Tooker, a junior at Charlotte High School who is also enrolled in the Law Enforcement Program. "You always have keep yourself safe, your partner safe as well. You just always want to make sure that you don't miss anything on the searches," Tooker continued while explaining proper procedure.

The 8th annual Criminal Justice Competition tests students on how well they put actual policies into practice.

"These are actual practices that the law enforcement, police officers do in the real world, and the students get to experience that now," said Officer Frank Medrano. Medrano was lieutenant with the Lansing Police Department for 25 years before retiring. He's now with the Grand Ledge Police Department and has been teaching the Law Enforcement Class for eight years.

For the annual competition, students make an arrest, pass a physical aptitude test and make two traffic stops.

"Society today should be educated on what law enforcement is about," said Medrano. "These students are here to make a difference. These students are going to make a difference."

Washington says not only is he going to make a difference-the program has made a big difference in his life.

"I was not supposed to graduate at this time, things of that nature. I actually got denied to get into this program the first time, they said I didn't have enough credits, I wasn't good enough to basically come and now I'm here," explained Washington. "I've got a job at East Lansing Police Department and I'm in the explorer post at the LPD. So things are definitely going different than they used to be."

Students earn college credit and everything is done to the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards (MCOLES).

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