– Guest Blog by Martin McCoy, Chief of the Auburn Police Department
As you might imagine, it’s common for us to encounter teens and young adults who could really benefit from a different environment than what they’ve been exposed to… one that sets them on a different path other than the repeated cycle of negative choices. That’s why the Auburn Police Department started The Pathfinder Program a few years back.
Geared toward ages 16-20, the Pathfinder Program is a mentoring program for teens and young adults in DeKalb County, including disadvantaged and at-risk youth. We expose Pathfinder members to our work, allowing them to ride along on patrols, help direct traffic, set up roadblocks, provide security at public events and even learn how to handle firearms safely and responsibly. Because of the experience, some go on to consider a career in law enforcement. In fact, one of our Pathfinder young men was just accepted as a reserve police officer!
At its core, the Pathfinder Program is a program about life. We use our time with the teens and young adults to share the importance of moral and ethical behavior, community involvement and personal responsibility. Our goal is for each Pathfinder member to become better equipped with the right life skills to successfully transition into adulthood.
One of the best aspects of the program is that we’ve benefited from it as well. It has energized our police officers as we’ve formed relationships and gotten to know these kids.
To join the Pathfinder Program, candidates must apply and meet certain requirements regarding school or employment. But most importantly, they must have a genuine interest in personal improvement—the program won’t be effective if they aren’t interested in growing. If you know someone who may be interested in the program, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for an application and list of requirements.