Officer Mike Daisley tells students what it’s like to work with his K-9 partner, Diesel.

Officer Mike Daisley tells students what it’s like to work with his K-9 partner, Diesel.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Kids participate in Novi’s Police and Fire Youth Leadership Academy

By: Charity Meier | Novi Note | Published August 10, 2022

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NOVI — Local youth were able to learn leadership skills from various police officers and firefighters during the weeklong Police and Fire Youth Leadership Academy held at the Novi Police Department Training Center July 25-29.

According to the city of Novi’s website, the annual program was created to provide teens with an inside look at law enforcement and fire prevention careers, while preparing them to become citizen-leaders in their community. The program is free and open to students ages 13 to 16 who reside in Novi or attend Novi schools.

Students were taught about patrol operations, use of force, K-9 units, traffic laws, traffic stops, the judicial system, digital forensics, aviation, crime scene investigation, Fire Department operations, confined-spaces rescue, CPR, home fire and emergency safety, and the Jaws of Life.

Racheet Shah, 16, a student at Novi High School, said he has always wanted to have a leadership position and felt that law enforcement officers and firefighters do a great job keeping everyone safe. He said it was a fun experience for him and he enjoyed learning about the various positions within the Police and Fire departments.   

“It’s taught me that if somebody is going through a tough position and a tough time and you’re in their team, you should always motivate them and tell them ‘you got this’ and keep trying to motivate them so that they don’t feel really bad that they are letting their team down,” Shah said. “If you are a team leader, there is way more than just being able to lead your team. There’s going to be, like, coordination, being able to communicate with your team properly and efficiently. Then there’s things like being flexible and being able to work with everyone. I learned how all these skills are really important in the Police and Fire departments.”

Detective Julie Warren said that it was important for the kids to see police officers in a different light so that they realize that police officers are just normal people.

“A lot of kids don’t think that we have houses and drive cars and have families,” said Warren, who is a school resource officer for grades K-8. “It’s important to build that relationship with the kids so that maybe one day they’ll decide to become police officers, but more importantly, so that if they do one day have to call the police, that they feel more comfortable, that they are not so scared, not so intimidated by us.”

Kavya Kannan, 13, who attends Novi Middle School, said she signed up for the youth academy as she has always been interested in law enforcement and wanted to learn more about it to see if she wanted to go into the field.

“I learned that being a leader isn’t about bossing people around. It is also about being one with them and encouraging them, cheering them on, making them feel included,” said Kannan.

She said that the most valuable lesson she took out of the program was to accept everyone, as one never knows what someone else is facing. Kannan said she liked the program so much that she plans to participate in the youth leadership academy again and, after graduating high school, join the police academy and go into forensics.

Fire protection officer Pat Deneau has been participating in the program for four years. He said it was eye-opening for the kids to be able to see some of the various tasks that the Fire Department performs and the equipment that firefighters use. He said firefighters don’t often get to interact with the kids on a non-emergency basis and the program was really fun for him to participate in as well.

“It helps me as a firefighter, too, because it helps me learn to be able to communicate with the kids,” Deneau said. “We go on a lot of runs that involve younger people, and getting down on their level and making them feel comfortable is a big part of what we do.”