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Birmingham Police Academy graduation highlights city’s youth

Published: Mar. 29, 2019 at 7:47 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - After weeks of training, studying and preparation, 18 Birmingham police officers stepped into their future.

They’re part of a big picture to make sure the police department is at its best.

"We have to produce for this city," said Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith.

Friday's  Birmingham police academy class was the third to graduate under new Police Chief...
Friday's Birmingham police academy class was the third to graduate under new Police Chief Patrick Smith. As the department welcomed 18 new officers to the force, they also highlighted some of the city's youth.(WBRC)

Chief Smith said that means more officers in the department.

“My goal is to reach 1,000 officers by the end of next year as we prepare for the 2021 World Games. As you can see in the back, our new academy class. We started with about 42 and we are down to about 36 left but our goal is to continue recruiting and positive effort,” he said.

Friday's  Birmingham police academy class was the third to graduate under new Police Chief...
Friday's Birmingham police academy class was the third to graduate under new Police Chief Patrick Smith. As the department welcomed 18 new officers to the force, they also highlighted some of the city's youth.(WBRC)

Recruitment was one part of the equation Friday. The other was youth engagement. This ceremony was conducted in its entirety by young people.

From the academy’s director, to mayor and chief, each role was handled by children. The kids are part of the police department’s newly formed BPD Youth Council.

“With everything that is going on, I think it is extremely important that we continue to give our young people a seat at the table and a chance to make their voices be heard,” said Justin Smith, who was the Youth Police Chief for the day.

Friday's  Birmingham police academy class was the third to graduate under new Police Chief...
Friday's Birmingham police academy class was the third to graduate under new Police Chief Patrick Smith. As the department welcomed 18 new officers to the force, they also highlighted some of the city's youth.(WBRC)

“Sometimes young people are left out of the conversation because a lot of adults don’t think that they can think like they do so they really don’t talk to them about that stuff,” said Deon Arnold, who was the mayor for the day.

Chief Smith said today was just the start of his efforts to highlight youth in our community.

Friday's  Birmingham police academy class was the third to graduate under new Police Chief...
Friday's Birmingham police academy class was the third to graduate under new Police Chief Patrick Smith. As the department welcomed 18 new officers to the force, they also highlighted some of the city's youth.(WBRC)

“Their voices means everything to me because they are our future. Our the teens deal with a number of things that we have no idea about, so we have to have that communication,” said Chief Smith.

The department will have its next class of recruits in July, which the same time the department will launch its new cadet program that also showcases youth in the community.

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