OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma City police officers at three different metro YMCA's are spending three weeks this summer mentoring children, teaching them what it means to serve and protect.
"What I think we're teaching them more importantly is what the police officer's role is in society," MSgt. Justin Echols with the Oklahoma City Police Department said. "Police work is a complicated job. It's a very volatile job right now. More understanding has to happen between communities and police and the only way that happens is if relationships are built."
Children ask the officers how fast a police car goes and what tools they wear around their waistband, but they also dig deeper.
"Then you get these really interesting questions from a little mind like 'do you like being a police officer?' 'Is what you do hard?' he said.
These resource officers come in both uniform and street clothes.
It's a way for the children to recognize an officer is just like them.
"I think the biggest takeaway they've had is recognizing police officers as being real people," Echols said. "The uniform creates this super phenomenon of an individual."
Just like any real person, the inspiration goes both ways.
“I've just been blown away by these little incredible minds that are bubbling with potential and to have any part in the development of that is my honor,” Echols said.
This is the first year for the YMCA to bring in officers to mentor their youth members.