A week in their shoes, an enlightenment

  • Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A.M. Sheehan/South Strand News High school stuents from all Georgetown County high schools and their training officers at the graduation of the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office Student Academy June 20.


They are seen driving by in a patrol car. They are seen walking the hallways at school. Their activities are chronicled in the police blotter.

For most, this is what they know of police officers. For many, police are a “them and us” scenario.

But for 21 young people ages 15 to 17, who attended the Georgetown County Sheriff's Office Summer Academy, learning about law enforcement officers and what they do was a real eye-opener.

“I got real insight on how police do their job,” said Jania Lawrence, 15, of Georgetown High School. “How they do it affects if you die today or live tomorrow…I have a whole lot more respect for what they do.”

Lawrence took the academy because she wants to be a Judge Advocate General (JAG) officer and her school guidance counselor suggested she begin that career path by learning about law enforcement.

Another student was far more pragmatic. “I learned not to run from law enforcement, obey every command,” Kenneth Johnson announced, completely serious, “'cause that Taser hurts!” Johnson had volunteered to be Tased.

In fact, a number of students excitedly volunteered. To a one they all learned: it hurts.

Kody Gould, 16 of Waccamaw High School, who has taken the course before and come back because “you learn something new every year,” noted “it's [an officer's job] is not as easy as they make it seem, as it looks on TV.”

Garrett Ballard, 16, GHS, was impressed with the driving portion of the Academy. “The drivers [deputies] are very experienced…we started to spin and [the deputy] had it under control.” Ballard quickly acknowledged he wouldn't be able to do that. Another student, Jackie Garrett, 15, GHS, also liked the driving best.

In line with the Academy's mission, 17-year-old Carley Pelasara, WHS, said the Academy “taught me about our civilian duties and looking out for others in the community.”

GHS student Cody Bailey, 17 and Sam Taylor, 16, Carvers Bay High School and Johnson have all taken the course before. Johnson and Bailey returned because they are interested in careers in law enforcement and Taylor noted it was a “great experience that most kids don't get….”

Andrews High School student Nick Brown, 17, said the course is “a good life-learned lesson. You know what to do and what not to do…it teaches self-discipline.”

Johnnie Shaw, 15, GHS, noted she learned how “drugs don't just affect you but your whole family. Just walk away from peer pressure.”

Learning leadership and authority, said Zharbray Livingston, 15, GHS, help good people “be better.”

Students learned all facets of law enforcement including driving skills, SWAT team practices and marine policing.

They generally agreed that the worst part of the Academy was the tour through the jail.

“Jail was scary,” they concurred.

And their other negative? “The iced tea tastes like McDonalds.”

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