ST. PAUL, Minn. - 20 students from Humboldt High School spent Friday on a behind-the-scenes tour of the St. Paul Police Department. It's an experience Chief Tom Smith hopes makes a lasting impression.
"It's critical for these young people," said Chief Smith. "A lot of them don't know about the police or have not had a positive relationship with them. This gives us an opportunity to show the human side of what we do."
It's also the foundation of a relationship the department hopes to build with students who may come from difficult situations at home or at school. Chief Smith believes experiences like this will build trust and reinforce the message that officers truly care.
"When something happens we want them to know they can trust that officer and not fear them," he said. "Our message to them is to not let anyone tell them they can't achieve their dreams."
For ninth grader Fausto Burola, an afternoon spent at the police station is something he'll never forget.
"Some kids think cops are bad or not fair," he says. "But you come here and see all they have to deal with and how they put their lives on the line."
Friday's tour is part of the department's mentorship program with area high schools.
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