Path Home Shows 2017 Show Archive June 2017 Show 1724 Brooms & Badges

Brooms & Badges

Western Technology Center students and law enforcement officials work together to break down communication barriers.
Brooms & Badges

Brooms & Badges

For more information visit these links:

Western Technology Center

Cadet Lawman Academy

Oklahoma Highway Patrol


Show Details

Show 1724: Brooms & Badges
Air Date: June 11, 2017



Rob McClendon: Hello, everyone. Thanks for joining us here on “Horizon.” I’m Rob McClendon. Well, when you are 16 and holding a shiny, new driver’s license in your hand, there is nothing so scary as a highway patrolman. Too often, this barrier grows and young adults find themselves looking on law enforcement in a distant, if not negative, light. But in western Oklahoma, a technology center is working to break down those walls and connect students to law enforcement at a site that can trace its origins back to the Cold War. Austin Moore has our story.

Austin Moore: Admittedly, it doesn’t look like much. But this nondescript, long-shuttered military building has a potent past.

NATS: These men are preparing for a mission unique in military history. The bombers they man will be an airborne force that will patrol the skies for 24 hours. In their bomb bays and under their wings will be more potential, destructive power than that expended in all wars fought since time began.

Austin: Though built during World War II, western Oklahoma’s Clinton-Sherman Air Force Base was best known for its role in the Cold War. During that tense time, this base housed squadrons of B-52 bombers, training crews to launch at a moment’s notice in order to rain destruction from the sky. But today, the site has been repurposed. Its runways serve as a training ground for Oklahoma’s respected Law Enforcement Driver’s Training School. And for one week a year, this facility hosts the Cadet Lawman Academy, when 150 youth from across the state live and train with troopers.

Robert Francis: These kids get to come out and they get taught the exact same skills that we teach troopers that are out on the road. Now, obviously we don’t teach them high-speed maneuvers. We don’t teach them, you know, they are not driving fast, but we are teaching them the fundamentals and the basics of things that are going to keep them alive out there on the road.

Austin: Trooper Robert Francis has been volunteering his time with the academy for 14 years. He and the other instructors teach more than just driving, gun safety and lake patrol techniques. They are building teamwork, character and opening relationships with the camp attendees.

Francis: You know we instill the core values in them of honesty, integrity and professionalism. You know, there is those things that they may not get at school or, you know, in other places, maybe at their work, that we instill in them that they carry for the rest of their lives. And on Saturday when they graduate there is normally not a dry eye in the house. There is not any of them that want to leave.

Austin: But to prepare for that week, a day of service occurs called “Brooms N Badges” where the students and staff of Western Technology Center go elbow-to-elbow with troopers working to make this facility ready for the summer. Assistant Superintendent of Western Technology Center Kathe Corning.

Kathe Corning: They’re going to roll up their sleeves and they are going to get the elbow grease going, so. There is some tire changing going on. There is some welding going on putting up a new sign in honor of a great partner that they had at Burns Flat schools. And we are cleaning kitchens and dishes and a little bit of everything.

Penny Berry: I partner up with the biomed students, and we go to the bathrooms and clean because those kiddos are into seeing what kind of germs they can find, because those students are being trained to go into the medical field. And at some point they may find a cure for some of that stuff that we found in the potty.

Austin: Fellow Assistant Superintendent Penny Berry.

Berry: “Brooms N Badges” is all about our students having opportunity to give back to the men and women in blue because we support what they do out on the highways as far as keeping us good and safe. Our mission statement is educating people for success, and we want our students to know that they have an opportunity to give back to their communities, and this is how we are doing it today.

Austin: What do you think about being out here today?

Student: I think it’s pretty awesome.

Austin: Yeah? Why so?

Student: Helping people. I love to serve people.

Francis: You know, we’ve seen kids out here that come out that have a sour outlook on law enforcement. And they get to come out and spend the day with us and see that, you know, we’re dads. We’re moms. We’re brothers and sisters. You know, we enjoy the kids. And we like spending time with them and getting to know them. And I think when they walk away from here that they have a different outlook.

Austin: Just as student Larissa Odom.

Larissa Odom: Most of the time you just see them, like, on duty. And so they are, like, almost not human. And so this is kind of, like, you relax and you talk to them and you get to know their personalities more than just their scary police personality.

Austin: Hardly the scariest thing in a place once built for the end of the world, now striving to build a better one.

Rob: Now, when we return, a new generation of law enforcement.