Officer Antwan Toney, a Gwinnett County police officer killed in the line of duty, was honored before South Gwinnett High School’s football game on Nov. 3. Student athletes linked arms with law enforcement officers, and a student read a poem written by South Gwinnett High English Teacher John Leece. CONTRIBUTED

Kids can learn a lot from police officers

Headlines involving youngsters and police more often than not conjure up thoughts of mayhem — or at the least, friction.

But the South Gwinnett High School football team recently displayed unity and respect in honor of Officer Antwan Toney, who lost his life in the line of duty. Members of the team linked arms with local police officers before their game against Grayson High School on Nov. 3. A member of the team also read a poem written by South Gwinnett High English Teacher John Leece.

And that’s not the only positive interaction between law enforcement and young people.

On the first and third Tuesday of every month, from 6 to 8 p.m., the Gwinnett County School Police host a meeting of Learning for Life/Explorers at Gwinnett County School Police headquarters, 1229 Northbrook Center Suite A in Suwanee.

Learning for Life/Explorers is a division of Boy Scouts of America. The co-ed program is open to young people ages 14-20 who have completed eighth grade. Participants are exposed to several professions and fields including law enforcement, firefighting, EMS, law, and engineering. Topics covered include accident investigation, traffic stops, criminal procedure, criminal law, and domestic violence investigations. The organization is student-led with adult oversight. Explorers use knowledge and training to compete against other police explorers in state and regional competitions. Information: 770-314-7279.

But wait, there’s more.

Just about every police jurisdiction has some sort of outreach program involving kids and teens.

The Atlanta Police Department offers several programs connecting officers with local youth, such as the Police Athletic League, where sports, education and recreation bring police and local youth together.

There are summer camps, school break events and many other opportunities for students to get to know the men and women tasked with protecting them.

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