FORT VALLEY, Ga. — Peach County High School has added a course to their career pathway program that teaches students about criminal justice and law enforcement.
In it, students learn about the lives of law enforcement officers who serve their own community. Former Fort Valley Police Lt. Kevin Sparks teaches the course.
"The pathway is called Law Enforcement and Criminal Investigations," said Sparks. "It consists of three different classes: introduction to law, public safety, [and] corrections and security. The second level is criminal justice essentials and the third level course is criminal investigations."
Junior Jakeb Heber and freshman Jillian Goowen are interested in law enforcement careers.
"With everything that's going on in the world right now, I think it's very good to know what your rights are and what other peoples' rights are," Heber said.
"I think it's a really good opportunity to know what the standpoint is from what police do and what students think the police are doing," Goowen said.
Sparks says it's vital for them to know all aspects of law enforcement.
"It's important for them to understand not only their rights, but the court process...how it moves from the initial contact of law enforcement officers, all the way into the judicial process," he said.
Fort Valley Police Chief Lawrence Spurgeon and Peach Sheriff Terry Deese also bring in their officers to help with lessons.
"So much of what we know about law enforcement comes from television shows. There's a sensationalized view of what it is we actually do, and this gives them an opportunity to learn," said Spurgeon.
"They're getting to meet the people that are out there on the streets doing the job, so they'll understand a lot more when they see things happening. They'll know the system from basically the inside out," said Deese.
Students learn about traffic stops, processing evidence from crime scenes, and how to write arrest warrants and incident reports. Sheriff Deese hopes this will encourage students to pursue careers in law enforcement.
He says that would help law enforcement agencies in rural areas that often have officer shortages. Sparks says he has about 85 students taking the course. Many say they want to become attorneys, police officers or judges.