PELHAM, GA (WALB) - On Tuesday, Pelham police officers put on a program at Pelham-City Middle School, geared towards building relationships with the community.
"If they shoot, it's not because they want to, it's because they have a good reason," said student Nasir Johnson.
The Pelham Police Department partnered with the Mitchell County Sheriff's Office, FBI and US Attorney's Office to host the Successful Tips For Youth On Law Enforcement Encounters or STYLE program.
On Tuesday, eighth-grade students in Pelham witnessed real scenarios that law enforcement face every day.
"How quick did it go from a nice cordial man to a murderer? He tried to shoot the officers," said Rod Williams with the Pelham Police Department.
The STYLE program is supposed to be an eye opener for young students, but also a way to form relationships with them.
"Police officers are really like, we need them. If we need help or anything and we get into trouble, we need the police and to have good relationships," said student Shanashia Mitchell.
Students were shown four different scenarios, a home domestic violence encounter, a traffic stop, a street encounter and shoot or don't shoot.
FBI Supervisory Senior Resident Agent Robert Mathews said the STYLE program was created for these students to learn that officers just want to keep the community safe without ever having to use violence.
"We're people too. We want them to realize that we're just like them. In the end, as an officer, nobody wants to pull a weapon and have that situation elevate to that level," explained Mathews.
This program is geared towards bridging the gap between youth, hearing misconceptions and forming a new perception of law enforcement.
"A lot of kids, the only interaction with law enforcement that they have is what they see on TV. So, if they go ahead and learn now that police officers are for them and not against them then maybe it will help them," said Counselor Tyler Autry.
"Police are a part of the community and I think it's important that there are close ties between the community and police," said Police Chief Nealie McCormick.
If you're interested in the STYLE program coming to your area, you can contact your local law enforcement agency or the US Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Georgia.
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