VESTAL, NY – Three Vestal High School graduates are living out their dreams of being police officers, thanks in large part to an area youth leadership camp.
Officers Justin Perez, Alyssa Chapman, and Bryant Mabee were sworn into the Vestal Police Department within the last year.
Besides sharing the bond of joining the force together, being Vestal grads, and growing up in the area, the 3 are also all graduates of the Vestal Youth Police Academy.
The academy, which started in 2012, is a 2-week program over the summer that gives kids not only the opportunity to learn more about what the life of a police officer entails, but is also meant to teach leadership and decision making skills.
Perez, who’s father has been a police officer for over 30 years, jumped at the chance to be a part of the academy all four summers through high school.
He says that what matters about the academy isn’t knowing whether or not you want to work in law enforcement going in, but that you are able to learnt he skills to better yourself as a person upon coming out.
“Being able to go through and be a leader in your community, I think it’s a huge thing to take out from it. Whether you are deciding on a future in law enforcement, or future in the medical field, or whatever it may be, I think it’s important that students learn the different qualities that it takes to be a leader in their community,” says Perez.
While both Officers Chapman and Mabee have ended up at the same station, they have had two different paths to get there.
Chapman says she’s known she wanted to be a police officer she she was a young girl, even giving that answer whenever she was asked by teachers growing up.
However, for Mabee, he started with the Vestal Fire Department, which he remains a part of now 5 years later, as well as E-M-S work before settling in at the V-P-D.
But, no matter the position, both are proud to be serving the community they’ve called home their whole lives.
“Being able to show them that, like, we’re always going to be here for each other, no matter what, like, we’re always going to be there for each other, it just means a lot. To be able to, now, show them that that’s what I want to do, that’s what I’ve always wanted to do,” says Chapman.
“Serving this community is awesome because everyone is super nice to you. And it’s a wide variety of calls that we get here. So, we don’t get like the normal stuff every day, well you get that stuff. Then, we get different calls from anywhere else. So, I like being here. Especially with my family being here too, which makes me feel better working here,” says Mabee.
Vestal Police Captain Stace Kintner was the school’s Resource Officer and founded the youth academy after noticing how most of the kids at the school seemed intimidated by having an officer on sight.
After working with all 3 officers during their time at the youth academy, Kintner says it’s pretty amazing to see it come full circle.
“It’s surreal. These three young officers, I’ve known most of them for several years. I knew some of them ahead of the academy. I said it before, the three of them have the foundation of what every good police officer should have, and that’s a desire to serve their community, work hard, do their job well,” says Kinter.
While last year’s academy was cancelled due to COVID, Captain Kintner says they are working on having the academy back running this summer.
If you have any questions about the Vestal Youth Police Academy, you can email the current program director Conor Talbut at CTALBUT@VestalNY.com.