Wyoming Police Department to Pilot 'Growth Through Opportunity' Program

June 11, 2018 06:43 PM

A first-of-its-kind program will soon start with the Wyoming Police Department.

It's called Growth Through Opportunity, a program that serves young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

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The program helps them get involved in public service, learning job skills, and gaining social experiences.

It will also teach police officers how to better interact with the community and with those who have disabilities.

"It better prepares our officers for those real-life situations that when we're out in the field and engaging different people with different perspectives, that we are really well prepared to deal with diverse populations with positive outcomes," Wyoming Public Safety Director and Police Chief Paul Hoppe said.

Sean Sieleni, 18, has Down Syndrome.

He will volunteer with the Wyoming Police Department as a cadet, during the 16-week program this summer.

"I'm looking forward to working with the police officers," Sieleni said.

Sean's mom, Leslie Sieleni, said she first learned about the program and shared it with Hoppe at a volunteer event this spring. He was interested immediately.

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"He saw the value of the program just as much as I do. Just having those communications between law enforcement and individuals with disabilities is a win-win for everybody," she said.

The GTO program started in Virginia, and is currently in use by nearly two dozen departments there.

Wyoming police will bring in an expert from Virginia to train their department of about 10 people.

They hope it will grow to include police departments large and small all over the state, and could eventually include scholarships to allow more people to attend.

 A fundraising page has been set up for those interested in helping. 

Credits

Jessica Miles

Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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