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Long Beach high-school football players attend first youth police academy

Student athletes learn ‘a different perspective on the profession of law-enforcement’

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Photos courtesy LBPD
Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) officer explains a specific scenario to local high-school athletes at the city’s first youth community police academy on Saturday, July 28.

Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna explained that, in an era with various social-media outlets, the public sees only about 10 to 20 seconds of a video and thinks that it is the whole story.

“We are going to show you today, our world, and how that is a little bit different,” Luna said to a crowd of high-school football students ready to participate in the first youth community police academy on Saturday, July 28.

Despite the ongoing controversy of how the public views policing, Luna discussed what he hopes will be the takeaway for the student athletes.

“This last year, specifically if you are talking about the NFL, there has been a lot of controversy as it relates to policing. When you talk about police brutality, mass incarceration, there’s so many issues going on out there that you hear about, you read about on social media,” he said. “There were teams from the NFL on down– college, high school, even pop warner– they were talking about, ‘Hey, let’s take a knee to protest this and protest that.’ I am not going to sit up here in front of you and say you should do A or B, but I think it is our responsibility as leaders in this city to show our young men and women what this city is about and what our police department is about. In a sense, we are reaching out to you to be our connection, our disciples, to go back to your teams, to go back to you community, and say, ‘You know what? I spent the day at the Long Beach Police Academy. I learned who they were, how they do things. I was able to participate myself, ask tough questions, and this is why they do things.’”

Five different Long Beach high schools, including Poly, Wilson, Millikan, Cabrillo and St. Anthony, had nearly four students representing each school.

“I bleed green and gold,” Sixth District Councilmember Dee Andrews said jokingly to the student athletes. “That’s alright. You guys have got to bleed your colors too and represent them the way you should.”

Long Beach high school athletes complete various simulations designed by the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) on Saturday, July 28 at the Long Beach Police Academy.

Training division commander Rudy Komisza added how he believed the day will go for the highschool students.

“I think it is going to be very fruitful,” Komisza said. “It is going to give you a different perspective on the profession of law enforcement.”

The student athletes participated in an interactive training course through classroom and scenario-based activities that covered topics such as patrol operations, laws of arrest, internal affairs and community engagement to understand how the law works and how officers have little time to process the information being thrown at them.

“You will walk away going, ‘Woah, I did not realize things happen that fast and decisions have to be made that fast,’” Luna said. “It is the same in football, right? When you are doing your stuff. You train a certain way. You prepare a certain way, so when that play comes up, when that situation comes up, there is less time to think, and you just react to it. It is no different here.”

The officers that trained the student athletes throughout the day are the same individuals who train the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) members.

“The staff that is out here at this police academy is the best of the best that we have,” Luna said.

Before beginning the day of training, lessons and simulations, Luna noted how important the experience will be for the student athletes sitting in the audience.

“At the end of the day,” Luna said, “Long Beach is about us. It is not just about the police. It is not about just the City. You live here. You go to school here. Your families live here. You need to be invested in this community. We are, and we want you to join us.”

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Long Beach high-school football players attend first youth police academy