The Columbus Police Department told high school athletes about police work and addressed their questions about law during a meeting Saturday morning at the public library.
"We want the kids to know how to properly interact with law enforcement, and know that they are not our enemy," said Spencer High football coach Pierre Coffey, who
brought 40 Greenwave football and basketball players to the forum. "We want them to become productive citizens and share this with other kids at school."
With an emphasis on a positive attitude and responsible decision making, officers encouraged the young men and women to focus their energies on goals, stay involved in school activities and look toward their future.
"The sky's the limit," said Cpl. Angela Florence of the D.A.R.E. program. "This is just the beginning."
"We beg, almost, to get kids to stay out of trouble," Cpl. Randy Brown of the crime prevention division told the audience. "Grow up, get a job and take care of your family. You can't do that if you're incarcerated."
Brown also reminded the youngsters that the police department's goal is to keep the community safe.
"Officers are doing their jobs when they stop a car," he said. "Drunk drivers and habitual violators endanger everyone."
Brown advised students to be mindful of their attitudes and behaviors if they are stopped by a law enforcement officer.
"Be respectful and don't be fumbling around," he said.
Officers are trained to watch a person's hands, as they could be hiding drugs, or have a weapon.
The panel of officers took questions about police procedures and discussed the realities of field work, including how they are trained to respond to an armed suspect or a situation with an active shooter.
"It was very inspiring to get answers about concerns," said Spencer High football player Ye'Majesty Sanders. "You know, concerns about the news, shootings, and why they do things."