18 cadets graduate from Mount Vernon Youth Police Academy
More than a dozen young cadets ages seven to 16 graduated from the Mount Vernon Youth Police Academy.
Det. David Clarke says some of the 18 graduates have parents who are police officers, while others attended for the second time.
The program teaches kids about positive things in the community, not just some of what they hear about violence.
"It's about bridging the gap between the youth and the police department," says Clarke.
Cadets learn about policing, hear from successful guest speakers and do 65 hours of community service.
"If one of those 18 kids picks up and runs with the torch, I did my job," says Clarke.
He says some of the kids didn't want to be in the program but adds that it changes pretty quick when they make new friends.
The program is in its seventh year.
Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard is now challenging parents to take the adult version of the program -- the Citizen's Police Academy -- the next time it's offered.