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Youth police graduate continues law enforcement journey

Published: May. 20, 2022 at 10:09 PM EDT
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VESTAL (WBNG) -- With the Vestal Youth Police Academy approaching this summer one graduate is reflecting on his time in the academy, and the ties it has to his calling to protect and serve with his current career in law enforcement.

Officer Justin Perez who works for the Vestal Police Department looks fondly on his time at the Vestal Youth Academy.

Although Perez had many inspirations when it came to law enforcement, he told 12 News it was the skills and lessons he learned during his time in the youth academy that he took to the real police academy.

“When I went through the actual police academy, there were situations and different courses that kinda brought me back to the youth academy” he said.

Other youth police graduates have followed similar paths with some even becoming Officer Perez’s co-workers.

“It’s really cool to see another youth academy graduate and to work alongside them is pretty cool,” Perez told 12 News.

Officer Perez stresses the importance of physical fitness not just for youth applicants, but for everyone.

“Make sure you stay physically fit,” he said. “Not only is it great for your health, it’s great for your well-being, your mental health and just pushing through it and being fit is a great option for all of us.”

School Resource Officer Conor Talbut is happy to see what becomes of the students after graduating from the youth academy.

“It’s had a very positive impact on the community. We’ve graduated well over 300 kids in the last 10 years,” SRO Talbut told 12 News.

SRO Talbut said the youth academy gets kids active and gives them a chance to take part in fun activities.

Some of those activities include K-9 demonstrations, CSI scenarios, CPR training and more.