COBB COUNTY, Ga. - It's a new approach to reaching out to at-risk kids, the Cobb Police Athletic League is teaching them martial arts. Police said it gives them structure, builds confidence and teaches them discipline.
The martial arts instructors are also Cobb Police officers, sharing their time and knowledge.
"We work with District Attorney Vic Reynolds and the Juvenile Courts and they created a diversion type program for some of the at risk kids they felt would benefit from a structured environment," said Cobb County Police Chief Michael Register.
Chief Register is highly skilled in martial arts. He said this isn't about teaching the kids to fight, it's about teaching the discipline and respect.
Probation Officer Ana Pinto said it's what many of the youths she sees in her office need most.
"They will have structure and most of these kids don't have structure at home," said Officer Pinto.
Those in the program are non-violent offenders, like Kory Williams. He said his probation officer suggested he take the class.
"It's a way to control my anger and learn how to do Martial Arts too," said Williams.
The class also fulfills his court-ordered community service hours.
On day one, Williams and the others learned the basics and had a little fun. What they may not realize is the program is also bridging the gap between kids and cops.
"I can assure you when they get in the class with the officers, they'll look at that officer differently and it will be a relationship that matures and lasts," said Chief Register.
The program isn't just for juvenile offenders, any children in the community can take part in this or any of the other Police Athletic League programs. Other programs include midnight basketball, football and track.