Florence Police Department ranger program looking to inspire next generation

WAFF 48s Aria Pons Reporting
Published: Sep. 22, 2023 at 9:51 PM CDT
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FLORENCE, Ala. (WAFF) - The Police Ranger program invites people between the ages of 16 and 20 to come along on calls, help with traffic and get real world experience.

Officer Josh Meza is bringing back the Ranger program that has been going on for years. He said some officers a part of the force came from the program. That is part of the reason he was looking to start the program back up this year. That and to inspire the younger generation to be in law enforcement.

“Definitely would be the closest thing,” Meza explained

The officers want to make sure that the teens are treated just like regular officers, up to a point. They are given handcuffs, a radio, a flashlight and pepper spray. However, they are not issued tasers or firearms. The rangers also have to pass the same agility test that a normal officer would.

“So they respond to calls just like we do,” Meza said. “Now if it’s something super dangerous we might have them stay in the car and wait for us to come back and tell them that it’s okay. But for the most part they are coming on the calls with us and really getting that firsthand experience to know what it’s like to work as a law enforcement officer.”

Meza is hoping this keeps officers coming back to the police department. He said it is a good way to know if this is the right fit for the rest of your life.

“You see different things,” Meza said. “Unfortunately dead bodies, drugs, you deal with unruly people, horrific car accidents, stuff like that.”

Meza said the rangers get to choose who they go on ride alongs with and must work 16 hours a month so, they create their own schedule.

The application process closes on October 11.

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