JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office joined forces with MAD DADS on Saturday to talk with Jacksonville’s youth on the Westside.
Two JSO officers spoke with about 50 curious children who asked them about police-community relations, and the officers shared with them more about their duties and responsibilities.
Officer Corella Perry said her goal when was asked to participate in the MAD DADS Life Skills University was to educate and communicate. She said as a Black woman, she grew up with the stereotypes and one encounter changed her future.
“I met an officer who did the same thing as I just did today, and it sent me on the path of law enforcement,” Perry said. “I have been doing it ever since. I started in high school, and I never stopped.”
Perry said what she wants the community -- including those 50 children -- to know is that she understands the struggles they face.
“I also know the good side of law enforcement. We are out here to help the community,” she said. “We are out here to help the kids, the youth, everything. We are out here to do the right thing.”
Taona Gardner, a 17-year-old First Coast High School junior, was watching and listening to every word.
“I took away a lot of stuff. One of the things that hit me the most was that Officer Perry went through a lot of things in life to get where she wanted to go and that really hit me,” Gardner said.
The teen said she was inspired.
“She is kind of a role model for me. My parents told me one day someone is going to speak to you, and I think Officer Perry really spoke to me today,” Gardner said.
Gardner said she also left the Q&A with the message that it’s important to look out for one another.
“Whatever color you are, it doesn’t really matter,” she said, “just be safe and look out for one another.”