OCEANSIDE — More than 100 students from the Oceanside High School Academy of Justice program poured into the police station for a tour on Oct. 1.
The field trip began with a talk about career opportunities within the police department by Chief Frank McCoy. He shared his goal to become chief and stories from his years as an officer.
“I have the opportunity to directly impact how things are done in the city,” McCoy said. “It’s a job that’s not going to make you rich, but you can support your family and it’s exciting.”
Next students split into groups and spoke to officers in seven specialty areas about the ins and outs of operations. Students got a firsthand look at police communications, holding cells, the SWAT vehicle and the field evidence workroom.
Police Lt. Leonard Cosby said the tour is an eye opener for students.
Chandra Faist, Oceanside High School criminal justice teacher, coordinates the Academy of Justice program. She said student feedback from the field trip was positive.
“It was cool to witness the stuff we see on TV in real life,” students were overheard saying. They also observed the chief and officers were “nice” and “low key.”
Faist said it made an impact on students to crawl through the SWAT vehicle, check out SWAT weapons and watch dispatchers handle multiple calls.
The tour also planted the seed of a having a career in the police department.
“The goal of the Academy of Justice at Oceanside High School is to expose students to careers in the criminal justice system,” Faist said.
Faist said about half of the students in the program plan to pursue a career in criminal justice or law enforcement, and close to half of them applied to the Police Explorer Program this year.
The Police Explorer Program is an on-the-job internship run by the Oceanside Police Department. Explorers team up with officers, learn to write incident reports and get a feel for the daily duties of police work.
“Chief McCoy and the captains are very committed to cultivating homegrown youth into the police department,” Cosby said. “They (local youth) already have commitment here.”
During the tour students were invited to arrange a future ride along with officers.
“The ride along will either get you more excited about the job, or maybe you’ll find it’s something you don’t want to do,” Detective Bill Wallace said.
The three-year Academy of Justice program earns students college credit, and teaches them work ready skills.
The program has been offered at Oceanside High School for five years, and is one of three criminal justice academies in the country.