State troopers change perception of law enforcement through ment - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

State troopers change perception of law enforcement through mentoring

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

In the wake of added tension between the public and police officers comes a solution from the Mississippi Highway Patrol. Troopers and officers from other departments got the chance to get to know students at one Jackson high school Thursday.

"Nowhere else in the country is law enforcement walking into a school working out with the dadgum athletes," said MHP Major Thomas Tuggle.

Through sweat and strength, these highway patrolmen are teaching students at Callaway Senior High School about positive choices. They're also aiming to break stereotypes.

"We've got outsiders coming to our state, trying to paint this picture of police being the bad guys and this perception of us being negative. This is an opportunity for us to start with the kids," added Tuggle.

For over an hour Thursday, state troopers, Pearl and Jackson police worked in the hot sun, pushing these Callaway players' limits athletically.

"It gives our kids [the opportunity] to see them outside their uniform, outside of a traffic stop, or outside of, 'Son, you need to get out of this building,' and I think it's only good," said Callaway Head Football Coach Patrick Austin. "It's great for relationship building," 

Police brutality continues to be a hot-button issue not only across the nation, but in Mississippi as well. Just a few weeks ago, Jonathan Sanders, an unarmed black man, died at the hands of a white Stonewall police officer.

Thursday's message to these kids is vastly different, with officers saying to them: "We are not your adversary."

"It just lets you know. Not everybody's the same," said senior Devin Gibson. "Everybody deserves an equal perspective of who they are." 

Being able to relate to these kids also helps.

Tuggle said many officers themselves came from broken homes and bad circumstances, but made positive decisions to change their paths in life.

"Even these guys coming out here, talking about their experiences, they've gone through the same things we go through, said senior Jordan Jefferson. "And I think that needs to happen more in our community." 

Austin said he hopes the steps they took to bring this to Callaway will inspire other schools to follow suit throughout the Magnolia State.

Major Tuggle agrees.

"I wish the rest of the country would dadgum take note of what we're doing down here," Tuggle told players during the workout.

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