Through the front doors of Lebanon High’s Hillcrest School, down the hall and into the cafeteria, officers from Lebanon PD, Missouri’s Highway Patrol, and even the Laclede County Sheriff are holding a new kind of class; One where pencils and notebooks are replaced with handcuffs and hands-on simulations.

Highway Patrolman Gary Sloan explains the lesson plan.

“The motivation is to kind of keep our youth aware of what to do if they’re stopped by us,” he says.

Assistant Principal Craig Reeves says the lesson is in part a response to the kinds of police shooting videos that every now and then make their way onto social media, where any young person might see it and get a negative perception of law enforcement.

“Imparting on the kids what can keep them safer, what can keep a situation, whether it be a ticket or a warning, to something else. We don’t want it to be that something else,” he says.

Senior Jericho Marquez is the target audience. As a young person, relatively new to driving, Jericho is who officers are hoping to get through to about how to keep situations calm.

“I’ve been pulled over twice now,” he says. “I was really shaky. I didn’t know what to do. I freaked out. Thought I was going to jail. It was just one of my tail lights was out.”

After today, Jericho says the idea of a calm interaction with police isn’t too far-fetched.

“You realize, you don’t need to be doing that stuff. You need to just listen from the get-go,” he adds.

By Collin Lingo | Ozarks First