JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Sixteen college students studying law enforcement at a university in Quebec, Canada got a close up look at deep south law enforcement techniques Thursday morning, thanks to the Jackson County Sheriff's Department. They're participating in an exchange program that began in 1999 to give lessons that can only be learned outside the classroom.
Class began with a friendly greeting, then a talk about jail operations. Next, a tour of the Jackson County jail inside and out. For the students, they quickly learn about the different incarceration styles between the two countries.
"You can see there's high risk people and the low risk people all in the same prison. These things will not happen in Quebec," student Marcolivier Murray said.
The tour of the jail opened the their eyes on many levels, according to student Maxime Ouellet. "I'm very happy to see a different culture, different things. It's all a difference for me."
Time for a different lesson: the use of non-lethal force. A game of rock, paper, scissors decides who experiences the stun gun. Simon Laroche was the chosen one.
"It was probably the most painful thing that ever happened to me. I've had quite a lot of injuries in my life, including a dislocated shoulder, but that was the most painful thing I ever experienced," Laroche told his fellow classmates.
Pepper spray bullets are also demonstrated. Then someone is shot with a bean bag projectile. The hand held taser is applied. Every student gets a taste, and a better appreciation on the use of force.
"Now I know that if I have to tase someone, I won't do it for fun, because it hurt a lot," student Frederique Lafaut said.
This cultural exchange lays the groundwork for better understanding. Capt. Mick Sears with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department heads up the program.
"I think it's very important. They get to learn our system down here. It kind of gives them a better insight about what their American brothers have to deal with in law enforcement," Sears explained.
At the end of the jail tour, and the demonstrations, there was a lot of hand shaking, a lot of thanks being passed around. Also, some very good words of wisdom from Lt. Richard Cushman, also with the sheriff's department.
"In law enforcement, all that we have is each other. It doesn't matter if you're Canadian, American, French or German. A police officer is a police officer is a police officer."
Following the jail tour and demonstrations, the students visited the Coast Guard station in Pascagoula, and then rode along with police officers on patrol. They fly back home Friday morning.