Students in the criminal justice programs at Freer and San Diego High School recently received advanced training equipment donated by the Duval County Sheriff's Department.

Sheriff Romeo Ramirez met with the students last week to talk to them about staying in school and going on to college, and the importance of education when it comes to pursuing a career in criminal justice.

“Two years of education from Coastal Bend College or Del Mar with an associates degree in criminal justice, that could put them in law enforcement right at 20,” Ramirez said. “We are just reaching out to encourage more youngsters to become police officers and deputy sheriffs, as a way to give back to their community and county through public service.”

As part of their role in helping to inspire officers for the future, Ramirez and his staff fulfilled a request made by the San Diego Independent School District for a patrol vehicle. The vehicle, valued at $4,000, will be used to practice conducting takedowns, felony stops, and routine traffic stops for competition.

The department had the vehicle decaled for criminal justice use, and the light bar and siren system will remain in the vehicle for student use in training.

The school district will be responsible for insuring the vehicle, Ramirez said.

Students in the Freer High School criminal justice program, which already has a competitive reputation both at the state and national level, received their requested $1,500 worth of training weapons from the department, both training handguns and assault rifles. The hard rubber weapons, in both neon pink and blue, are used by law enforcement students for training in simulated exercises.

Ramirez said he's seen the Freer students operate first hand in search and seizure drills, fingerprinting, and crime scene investigation techniques. A contingent from the Duval County Sheriff’s Department traveled with the team last year to Waco for the state competition. The team was able to move on to national competition last year.

“Some of these kids have been participating in the criminal justice program for three years now, which tells me there is potential,” Ramirez said. “Because it is an elective class, it’s telling me that there are kids who want to pursue a career in criminal justice, and we want to help them in any way we can.”