Delray PD and Atlantic HS partnership thriving

Posted at 7:07 PM, Mar 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-03 19:07:06-05

Delray Beach's newest cop is about as homegrown as it gets.

Officer Billy Vandermeeren-Sanchez was sworn in Monday, but he got his start in high school.

Since 2002, the police department has been teaching a criminal justice academy at Atlantic High School in Delray Beach.

Students graduate with a certification to work as a community service officer (CSO) at the department. From there, they can attend the police academy and move up to a sworn officer.

Vandermeeren-Sanchez says meeting officers while in high school cemented law enforcement as the career he wanted to pursue.

"A lot of the officers from the department would swing by, you would see them and they would share stories of stuff they're doing at work," he explains.

Vandermeeren-Sanchez joins several current police employees who went through the program, including Ofc. Rodner Guillaume and CSO Jermaine Frazier.

"It's amazing," says high school junior Orlany Rodriguez, who is enrolled in the academy. "You can see how they start from an academy like me. I hope to be one of them."

About 150 students are enrolled in the high school academy. Even students in the academy who may not pursue careers in law enforcement say they learn leadership, responsibility, integrity and other life skills.