FORT MYERS, Fla. — Southwest Florida’s youngest are getting a taste of what it’s like behind the thin blue line.
It’s thru the Fort Myers Police Department’s ‘Respect for Law Camp’ taking campers on a four-day journey thru training. Today marked the end of that camp.
“When they see the kids march into that gym for the first time, their jaws hit the floor," says Officer Keith Curr, Fort Myers Police Department. "They can’t believe it and I can hear the whispers amongst them saying, ‘Is that my kid? Is that my kid out there? Wow!’”
It's helping local kids learning what it’s like to be in law enforcement.
"They learn some discipline, they learn how to march, but more importantly they learn teamwork and how to become better citizens and better kids in school- things of that nature,” said Officer Curr.
Campers are split up in five different platoons working as a team throughout the four-day camp. Each platoon has its leaders- police officers, firefighters and deputies.
“It’s amazing to see the transformation from day one on Thursday when they show up and they’re not really excited to be here," Officer Curr says. "They’re upset that their parents are dropping them off to, finally, Sunday during graduation, standing there tall and proud, marching for their parents and showing just how far they’ve come.”
"It was a lot more exercising, I can tell you that!" said Isaiah Gray, a camper. "It was not what I was expecting.”
Gray was one of those campers assigned to blue platoon. He’s also one of the few awarded with the prestigious honor of ‘Best in Platoon.’
"It motivates you and exercises you and pushes you," he says. "Friendship, too. Discipline, respect- you learn all sorts of things.”
Campers are put thru all sorts of training scenarios and exercises. But the message goes a little deeper than a physical meaning.
“If we can just show them this side of law enforcement, or firefighting or EMS, that we’re humans too- we can help bridge that gap together," said Officer Curr. "If we build some trust with them, then maybe they’ll feel more comfortable in the future coming to us if there’s problems.”