Henry County Police educate teens on encounters with law enforcement

Teens in Henry County are seeing first-hand what to do if stopped by a law enforcement officer.

They also learned the steps to take if they feel unsafe during that encounter.

The police department hosted a Citizen/Police Encounter Program to encourage safe interactions.

The teens here took part in several scenarios to put them in the middle of an encounter none of them have experienced before. Based on what's happening nationwide between police and the public, some told us they've been fearful of law enforcement.

Even though these traffic stops in henry county were just scenarios, these teens questioned outside the police department said it felt real.

"I got a little shaky," 15-year-old David Clark said.

15-year-old Jadori Smith told us "I'm nervous. I was literally shaking, and I knew this was fake."

It was their first time engaging with officers in this way.

"The officer originally pulled us over for the tail light and then when they approached our car, they smelled marijuana," Smith explained.

Thursday night was the department's first time hosting their class.

"Follow the instruction of the officer," Officer Charlie Mears explained. "If the officer says to stand with your hand on your head and the other one in your ear, please do it."

The program also consisted of a Q&A session and presentation on safety.

Officer Mears pointed out what to do if you feel mistreated.

"If he's doing something that's not correct, there are certain avenues we can do down to address that later on."

The class comes amid protest across the country this year calling for criminal justice reform and to defund the police.

Some of the teens said the program does help them see officers differently.

Smith said her perception prior to Thursday night was "fear. It was fearful. I mean I was scared that I could be in a position like Breonna Taylor."

The officers also talked about mental health and diversity training they undergo to help them better serve the community and ensure everyone involved make it home to their loved ones.

One of the officers who put this program together said it's something they hope to do again. It's part of the department's effort to continue being transparent.