Eleven students from Ceres High teacher Randy Cerny's criminal justice classes gained valuable insight into the law enforcement field last week while participating in the Ceres Police Department's Ride-Along Program.
"The concept has been around for years," Cerny said. "We've been doing it on and off for as long as I've been teaching here. You can learn so much through a classroom setting. Being able to ride along with a police officer gives students a more realistic, first-hand perspective of what goes on in law enforcement."
Hannah Smith, Callie Nunes and Saul Mendoza shadowed officers Charles Rushing, Ron Collins and Coey Henson, respectively, on May 1.
"I'm pretty honored that they picked me," Mendoza said. "It was a great opportunity. I want to help people. I've always been taught to do the right thing. And I like challenges. I tried the ride-along to see if this is something I'd be interested in doing."
Zach Smith, Bianca Perez and Wyatt Ogden shadowed Matthew Berlier, Randy Moore and Krandall Vandagriff, respectively, on May 2.
Monica Cummins, Lizabeth Prado and Elijah Stugelmeyer shadowed Vaandagriff, Berlier and Moore, respectively, on Wednesday.
Ana Peres shadowed Bill Carter on Thursday.
Each ride-along lasted two hours, starting at 10:45 a.m. and ending at 12:45 p.m.
Cortez shadowed Kiashira Ruiz for an entire shift, from 2 p.m. to 1 a.m., on Friday.
Each student will be required to write a summary of their experience.
"The reputation for law enforcement in the United States has taken a hit the last couple years," Cerny said. "This type of positive interaction benefits the students and community. They get to really see police officers at their best. It's a win-win for all of us."
Lieutenant Chris Perry and Sergeant Keith Griebel served as Student Ride-Along Program coordinators.
Perry and Griebel are former students of Cerny.
"I know firsthand how important programs like this are to young students," Griebel said. "I also know how important these types of programs are to law enforcement, in that it interests people to this profession who eventually become the next generation of law enforcement officers. The first time I ever rode with a police officer in Ceres was while doing a job-shadow ride along as a student at Ceres High School. Shortly thereafter, I became an Explorer and then an officer. That was over 20 years ago. What an impact that ride-along had on my life. Even though I have worked for over 18 years as an officer I can still remember that particular ride out and the events that took place that day."
"Lt. Perry was in my first class when I started teaching," said Cerny.
Cerny has been teaching at Ceres High for 24 years.
Eight of his former students are Ceres Police officers.
"We have about 200 students that have come out of this program that have successful careers," said Cerny, who worked for the Sheriff's Department for 12 years prior to becoming a criminal-justice teacher in 1993. "The results speak for themselves."