MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Montgomery police and the district attorney are working to change a negative perception some have about law enforcement. They're starting with children through the iLead program.
Thursday, nearly 200 fifth and sixth graders from Montgomery spent time out at the police training center to interact with officers, along with prosecutors and investigators from the DA's office.
Dajon Williams, a student at E.D. Nixon Elementary, was at Thursday's event, and even at his age, he's already decided on his career. He plans to one day become a judge.
"I would like to help people out and try to teach them from doing the mistake that they did before so that they can learn from their mistakes," Williams explains.
It hasn't always been that choice. In fact, Williams says he didn't always think highly of those in the judicial field.
"For a minute, I thought all police officers and prosecutors were bad until I met Mr. Daryl Bailey. They taught me how all police officers are not bad and how they protect us," the boy explains.
District Attorney Bailey says that's what this iLead program focuses on, especially Thursday's events, showing prosecutors and police officers in a positive light.
"Often, their view of a prosecutor or police officer is what they see on TV or maybe arresting a loved one or prosecuting a loved one," Bailey explains. "This is just a good day for us to interact with the kids and show them we are human beings that really do care for them and want them to grow up and be successful and good people."
Bailey says more than half of the students in the program know someone who is in prison. For many, that person is a loved one. He believes though, with the help of iLead, students will be able to follow a different path.
"They can be anything that they want to be, and often they don't believe that. A lot of our kids don't see themselves living past 20, 21 years of age, or they see themselves in prison. That's a shame. We want these kids to have dreams and we want them to be able to succeed in those dreams," says Bailey.
Students were also able to get the chance to hear from two former pro-athletes, along with current National Football Champion with the Crimson Tide, linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton. The athletes spoke on the importance of making good choices and staying in school.
This is the second year for the program. The hope is to expand it throughout the school system.