High school criminal justice program receives retired patrol car

Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 10:19 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 21, 2022 at 7:49 AM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - A newly donated retired police vehicle will now be at the center of learning at Nettleton High School.

The criminal justice course will learn in an environment like none other.

“Kids kind of get exposure to a lot of different things in the criminal justice system, said instructor Brian Lovins. “People tend to think more from the mindset of law enforcement, but there’s so much more to it than that.”

Lovins, who will teach the new three-year program, brings first-hand knowledge to the class. He served as an officer with the Jonesboro Police Department for three and a half years.

Lovins says he always wanted to make the transition to the schoolhouse as a teacher and coach. Now, he’s doing just that.

From the streets to the classroom, he says courses like this were not offered to him when he was in school…

So he has worked extensively to make the class interesting, including partnering with the city and Jonesboro Police department to secure a Retired Police Vehicle 804.

“Obviously, we are very grateful to the mayor, the chief, and the police department for letting this happen. But, the opportunity for all our schools to partner with the city and the PD in particular with a program like this is very important,” Lovins said. “It also gives us the opportunity for me to have that relationship with them, and the plan is to have those guys and ladies in here as guest speakers and get the students to the PD to see what they do day-to-day.”

Once JPD handed over the car keys, students like Brian Long said it made a normal class lecture more hands-on.

“He [Instructor Lovins] actually got us to play with some of the programs and the buttons to see what it can do,” Long said. “That’s what I kind of like, hands-on activities.”

Unit 804 is retired, so the siren doesn’t work, but the imagination can run wild.

Your basics are there, like the prisoner partition and a lighting control panel that activates the flashing lights.

“I don’t think we’re going to be able to drive, because anything can happen,” Long said.

Will there be any high-speed police chases as a lesson?

“The car is going to be used for a variety of things, including traffic stops, accidents, investigations, and vehicle searching, but it will always be on campus in a controlled environment,” Lovins said. “So, no, you won’t see kids riding around in a retired JPD car.”