Teens Spend Summer Under Watchful Eyes Of Police

A group of teenagers is playing roles in a mock DUI trial this summer. The teens have turned a classroom at Bayou View Middle School into a courtroom to learn a sobering lesson.

13 year old Tralvis Fortenberry said "It'll keep you from driving while drunk, like drink respectfully".

The class is part of the Gang Resistance Education and Training, or GREAT Summer Camp, run by Gulfport police officers. The teens can burn up some energy while learning about drug and violence prevention, juvenile law, even how to balance a budget.

Alfred Sexton with the Gulfport Police Department said "We've got a teacher under contract that's providing a foreign language -- Spanish. They're also getting tutoring. They're also receiving life building skills".

Life skills like obeying strict rules, and doing push-ups if they make mistakes.

13 year old Felicia Gammill said "When I get older, I'm going to be in like the Marines or whatever, so I figured this would be a good start, so I know what I'll get into when I get older".

15 year old Marques Lavender said "We do a lot of activities, like in two weeks, we'll be going to the Air National Guard Base".

Officers hope the summer lessons will last long after camp ends. Tralvis said "It teaches us self discipline and how to go through life and have respect for people".

Sexton said "It's not a program designed for at-risk children. It's a prevention program that allows something positive for these children to be involved in during a time period when they normally would be sitting at home or running the streets".

The Gulfport Police Department also offers other summer camps, including a Police Athletic League and Hook a Kid on Golf. For more information or to register, call 868-5703.  The camps are free.

By: Trang Pham-Bui