High school students prepare for careers in law enforcement

ABILENE, TX - There's no shortage of TV shows about crime and law enforcement, but some AISD students are getting lessons about the real thing.

Meet Edward Hernandez. He's a senior at Cooper High School who dreams of becoming a police officer. This is his second year in the school's criminal justice program. 
"It's more of a hands on program than just doing classroom work," Hernandez said. "That's why I like."

He's learning what will be required in the field.

Hernandez said, "We handcuff, talk to a suspect, learn how to clear a room when there's an individual that needs help and how to communicate when there's an emergency."

In December 2012, he and his classmates participated in the regional criminal justice competition. His swat team took first place.

"I wouldn't have gotten this medal if it wasn't for my instructor Mr. Cunningham," said Hernandez. "For what he taught me in class, I know that everything that is required to know about the law he's teaching the basics of it or even more."

Tommy Cunningham, a retired police officer, founded the program 16 years ago. He's most proud of his student's accomplishments.

"Many of them have gone on to college and received their college degrees," said Mr. Cunningham. "Many of them have gone into different professions. One of my first students has been a police officer in Austin for almost 11 years.

"The tragedy that happened in Connecticut," said Hernandez. "We want to make sure nothing like that happens here in town or anywhere in Texas. That's my goal."

The criminal justice program is heading back to the Dallas area to participate in the state competition in March.

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