Through the years, many officers have spent several days in Mrs. Major’s Leadership classes.
- Detective John Gleaton
- Officer Darryl Clevenger
- Cprl Philip Brettel
- Sgt Steven W. Smith
- Matt Cuellar
- Officer Mark Whorton
The vast majority of Mrs. Major’s students are currently 17. The officers were asked to talk to students about the differences between being arrested from age 17 to 18, because lots of procedures change when you legally become an adult. Officer Matt Cuellar and School Resource Officer Mark Whorton also stopped by room 500 for a class.
Detective Gleaton and Officer Clevenger shared their life stories with students, explaining how decisions they made in their earlier years has taken them to the places they are now in their careers.
Both officers talked extensively about making good choices, because bad choices during your teen years can change the course of your life. Two different things happen when you get in trouble depending on your age.
Detective Gleaton, who has been in police work 27 years, explained that if you make bad choices and get arrested under the age of 18, you are considered a juvenile. You will wind up in juvenile court, where you are primarily there for rehabilitation. This court system is like a safety net, designed to help young people learn the error of their ways and help them turn their lives around.
The adults in this system are trying to help teens stay out of the legal system, teaching them ways to make better choices. Some children under the age of 18 get sent to juvenile detention centers.
When you are arrested as a juvenile, you are generally taken to the police department, where you will be fingerprinted and have a mug shot taken. Generally, you will then be released to your parents. Juvenile court can put you on probation, which can last until you turn 21.
Between 18 and 21, if you commit your first offense and you have never been in trouble before, the courts may assume this was just a one time mistake. Your record of this arrest is sealed, so it is kept out of the public eye. Someone would need a court order to see your offenses. That option goes away after the age of 21.
Under the age of 18, you can be charged as an adult if you are convicted of certain “adult” crimes, like use of a deadly weapon or a Class A felony, like drug smuggling/trafficking, rape and murder.
Officer Clevenger, a police officer for 10 years, explained that when you are arrested as an adult, you will stay in jail until someone can bond you out. In adult jail, you will be housed with other adult inmates in a 5×10 cell with a bench, a small mattress, and a shared toilette. It’s loud, with noise reflecting off the concrete walls. There are sometimes fights, with any sharp objects inmates can fashion to use for weapons. Awards are given to officers who find hand-made weapons in jail.
Officer Clevenger stressed jail is not a place you want to be.
When a man who works in a jail says it’s not somewhere you want to wind up, take his advice.
Both officers stressed that many people who get arrested are then arrested over and over again, and once you get in the adult legal system, it’s often very difficult to get yourself out because of the costs incurred with arrests.
Officer Clevenger offered several suggestions for handling traffic stops safely.
- If you get pulled over, turn the dome lights on in your car so the officer can see inside.
- Turn the radio down.
- Roll the driver’s window down.
- If all the windows are tinted, you can roll them all down for visibility inside the car.
- Keep your hands on the wheel, and if you have to get something, move slowly.
- Be polite and pleasant.
- If you have a weapon in the car, inform the officer where it is located but do not try to get it.
Detective Gleaton explained that police officers see things at work that stay with them for life, and this colors the way they see people breaking laws and conducting their lives.
Your demeanor will dictate how the traffic stop will go. Arguing with a police officer on the side of the road during a traffic stop will not do anything positive for you. If you do everything right, you still may still get a traffic ticket, but everyone goes home.
Several students asked about the difference between jail and prison. If you get arrested for misdemeanor or low-level crimes with convictions less than one year, you will serve time in jail. When you get convicted of a felony or have a sentence of longer than one year, you will serve time in prison. And Detective Gleaton stressed that prison is just as bad as it is depicted on television.
Officer Clevenger and CPRL Brettel discussed your rights.
- You have the right to refuse a search of your automobile.
- You do not have the right for a phone call if you are arrested.
- You have the right to turn your hazard lights on and drive to a well lit area to pull your car over. You should call the police department (or 911) to let authorities what you are doing.
The main point of all the officers was that the better choices you make now, the better life you have ahead of you.
Mrs. Major and all her students are so appreciative of the officers’ time, because anyone watching the news lately knows some craziness has gone on in Foley during the last week. All four officers who took the time to speak to students had other work they could have been doing elsewhere. We were very grateful they were able to talk with all six classes.
We send our thanks and appreciation all our Foley police officers, both on the street and in the schools, and we wish them our very best.