Barking orders like a drill sergeant, San Pedro Special Constable Juan Carlos Morales introduced about a dozen boys and girls to the San Pedro Police Cadet Program last week.
Constable Morales demonstrated the proper technique for marching, how to salute and standing at attention. At first glance, many may wonder "what these children did to be forced to go through these drills." In reality, the children volunteered to be part of the cadet program.
"I want to be here," said Berdhita, a twelve-year-old girl. "It is special to get to know about the police and practice to march and to learn what they do."
That is exactly the goal of the program, said San Pedro Police Constable Everet. "We want to teach them what they can do as citizens," said Constable Everet. "This includes discipline and participating in something positive instead of negative," he added. Fifteen–year-old Nestor Guerra agreed. "Sometimes kids have nothing to do but to kill the day, like smoke the weed. We're not killing the day, we're doing something good."
Constable Morales added that the cadet program is not all marching drills and discipline. "We also have fun with sports and other activities. It's not all work, work, work." The Cadet program is offered to children ages nine to 17. To take part in the program, children must fill a form and have it signed by parents. The form is available at the police station. The sessions are offered Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays beginning at 4:00 p.m., and also Saturday mornings beginning at 9:00. Students who participate should meet at the police station.
Reviving the Cadet Program in San Pedro was suggested during meetings last fall when Belize Police Department Assistant Commissioner Maureen Leslie met with local leaders, parents and students. At that time, much of the discussion revolved around the crime situation in San Pedro, specifically crimes committed by youth. "This is a step towards making the young people better in San Pedro," ended Constable Everet. "If they learn these things now, they will be better people tomorrow."