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TOLEDO, Ohio — It was a friendly competition of basketball today between Toledo police officers and firefighters.
But more important than the competition, the game was meant to highlight Toledo Public School’s PS419 Program.
“The fire department and police department have gotten with the school district, we have identified who would make great officers and great firefighters,” TPS Superintendent Romules Durant said.
PS419 is all about exploring law enforcement and emergency response careers. There are currently 30 TPS students being mentored by police officers and firefighters on a monthly basis.
But the instructor, Andre Tiggs, said it goes beyond your traditional mentorship.
“It’s just having someone they feel that cares and having them from police and fire – even when they’re on duty within the district – one or the other will always stop by and it just brightens up their day,” he said. “That’s all the kids are actually looking for – is someone that cares.”
Toledo Police Officer Prince Flores said they’re building relationships with their potential future co-workers.
And if the students choose a different career, at least they will see a familiar face out in the community.
“The biggest thing is making sure they can put a face to this uniform,” Flores said. “They know who we are, they know what we’re about, they know that we’re here to help them regardless. All we want to do is build that relationship and get it to a point it can sustain itself.”
Nearly all of the first responders on the court are TPS alumni and at least five of them went to Bowsher High School.
“This is our opportunity to let these students know that we’re from the same spots that you’re from,” Toledo Fire & Rescue Department Captain Aaron Hague said. “We come from this community and we serve this community. We want to show you that you could have the opportunity to do that same thing.”
PS419 is a two-year career tech program for all TPS students, but what they gain from it can stick around for a lifetime.
For more information, you’re encouraged to reach out to your school counselor or Tiggs at 419-671-2000.
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