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Law enforcement doing their part to show “not all cops are bad”

Oklahoma City Police Department
Officers and members of the Youth Engagement Council meet with the Springlake department of OKCPD.

“These programs allow young people to see we are no different than their parents, uncles, aunts, etc…” said Capt. T.G. Childs of the Oklahoma City Police Department.

Every month, the Oklahoma City Police Department (OKCPD) meets with a group of select student leaders around Oklahoma to discuss ways to better their community. 

Two of these student outreach programs are Youth Leadership Academy (YLA) and Youth Leadership Engagement (YLE). The goal of these programs are to give students a more open mind about law enforcement and to show them police officers are human. 

“We love, we hurt and we care just as much as they do,” Childs said. 

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Captain Child admits that growing up he misunderstood the institution of police officers, as many kids in this generation do, but as he looks into his past he has come to realize how much his surroundings influence his opinions.

“I just think the environment at the time and my surroundings brought a bunch of those thoughts to fruition and then by not knowing the what behind the why,” Childs said. “Now I have a better understanding of both aspects and can help others navigate those spaces with proper context.”

But it wasn’t just time and growth that made Childs change his feelings towards the police department, he actually credits this shift to a particular person. 

The School Resource Officer (SRO) at Douglass High School, Master Sgt. Jerry Caldwell. At first, Childs wanted no part in speaking with Sgt. Caldwell as his peers would. But, one day Caldwell asked him a daunting question.

“What did they do?” Sargent Caldwell asked.

This elaboration on the idea that our personal choices dictate who we become in life would forever change his outlook on people and life. From here on out his goals in life were to simply make those around him proud.

Finding this mentor figure gave Childs the idea that maybe more kids like him just need that extra support to be great. This is what prompted Childs to help with programs like YLA.

“Programs like YLA and YLE are important because they bridge the gap between our future generation and law enforcement,” Childs said. 

Another officer that has chosen to make a difference with youth is Officer Denisha Lambeth.

Lambeth’s experience in working in law enforcement was a little different than Childs. She decided to become an officer because she was tired of seeing this trend of people done wrong. She wanted to be the change.

Her daughter, a senior at Edmond Santa Fe that has gone through the YLA and YLE programs, is someone who inspired her to do something about what was going on. 

“My Daughter, Ariyanna Underwood inspired me to become a police officer,” Lambeth said. “I joined to be a part of the change I wanted to see. She is my WHY”

Lambeth is a moving SRO at six different elementary schools. She’s only been a part of the OKCPD for three years but she automatically was drawn to children. 

“I feel like I have 2,400 kids instead of just 1,” said Lambeth.

While working students, Lambeth has grown the understanding that working with youth and making them understand that not all cops are bad is key to growth.

“Some kids before meeting and getting to know me will tell me, ‘I didn’t like the police before I met you.’,” Lambeth said. “Everyone has a reason and a story and I respect that. I let everyone know, I’m human. I’m a mom, daughter, sister, aunt, friend etc. Being a police officer is what I do, it’s not who I am.”

Having younger generations understand that everyone has a story, even law enforcement, could be the beginning to a more understanding society. People like Captain Childs and Officer Lambeth that are making things happen rather than sitting back and wanting things to change may be what changes younger generations’ minds about police officers.

“I feel as if this program gave me more of a positive perspective on police officers,” said Erica Jackson, Senior at Douglas High School.This program has shown me that officers can be fun and helpful in many ways.”


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About the Contributor
Alanna LaDeaux
Alanna LaDeaux, Howler Co-Editor In Chief
Hi! My name is Alanna Ladeaux. I play school and travel softball. I have been playing since I was 3 years old. I am also involved in all sorts of clubs including, founder of the Black Student Union and Senior Class President. I have been on the Howler staff since my Sophomore year of High school and I love to write. 

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