To help her community, 9-year-old Nae’kia Lawrence thinks having a squad of her friends called “Kids Citizen Patrol” to help check on suspicious activity would help cut crime.
That was her main idea in an essay submitted to the North Miami Beach Police Department about what she would do if she got the job as chief of police. Nae’kia won first place out of more than 100 submissions, and she was named Jr. Chief for a day.
Along with the Ojus Elementary student, Christie Baptiste, 11, from Sabal Palm Elementary and Kenold Ordenat, 9, from Fulford Elementary, were sworn in last Thursday as Jr. Assistant Chiefs at the North Miami Beach Police Department.
“We hope that this will continue to instill positive relationships between our youth in our community and the law enforcement community,” said Scott Dennis, the real chief of the North Miami Beach Police Department.
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The three students were taken from school to the station for their swearing-in ceremony.
Parents and teachers were among the guests who also received a tour of police headquarters.
“We are very proud of Nae’kia,” said her mom, Tanay Lawrence, 34. When North Miami Beach police “first went to her school to notify her that she had won, she asked the officers ‘What did I do?’ She had no idea she had won first place.”
Chief Dennis also started early, knowing he wanted to work for law enforcement at a young age. He was part of the safety patrol program when he was in second grade.
“I was a school safety patrol and worked my way up,” he said. “My badge is still hanging in my office.”
Just like Dennis, all three Jr. Chiefs are part of the safety patrol program in their schools.
Kenold “has always been a great student and is very active as a safety patrol at school,” said Irmine Butts, 34, reading coach at Fulford Elementary.
One of the best moments for the Jr. Chiefs was a boat tour where they got to see Sandspur Island — also known as Beer Can Island — up close.
Christie was on a boat for the first time.
“I had loved riding on the golf cart but the boat was the best part,” she said. “The sun and the ocean make this even better.”
“I enjoyed the boat ride more than the golf cart,” she said.
The agenda for the day also included a K-9 demonstration by Radek, an 8 year-old German shepherd, a robotics presentation from the SWAT unit, an MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicle tour and lunch at Area Code 55 with the Greater North Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce.
Community policing officers Rebecca Hasty and Alex Morales spent the day with the three Jr. Chiefs
“The most important thing is that they broadened their horizons, learned about a necessary part of our society and got to experience something new,” Hasty said. “They also learned that their ideas are important and that police officers care about what they have to say.”