‘Cops and Cleats’: Appalachian State football players train with CMPD officers

Updated: Jun. 22, 2021 at 3:54 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The Appalachian State University football team got to train like police officers on Tuesday.

In the first “Cops and Cleats” event, CMPD hosted the players at their training facility.

The goal was to give them a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to become an officer and build trust through open conversations.

CMPD Chief Johnny Jennings said college athletes can have a strong voice and impact on others and take the leadership they learn on the field into their communities.

Jennings is a prime example of this, as he played football for the Mountaineers in the late 80s.

Now, the police chief wants to help student-athletes better understand policing and maybe even see a career in it for themselves.

Split-second decision-making is one of the key skills police officers must possess.

The college players trained like officers by facing real-life scenarios in a firearms simulator.

From suspicious activity to a domestic violence call, they learned how to act and whether a weapon is needed.

“If we don’t make an effort to show them who we are, let them have an informed opinion of who we are, then we’re failing our young people,” Chief Jennings said.

Head coach Shawn Clark also got to try his hand at K9 officer training.

“We’re here for the officers also because we know what kind of job they have, and they’re human beings also,” Clark said. “They want to go home to their families. It’s a great way for our players to see both sides of the story and get things working in a positive way.”

For defensive end Tommy Dawkins, it’s a glimpse into what he hopes will be his future.

“I actually want to go into the FBI,” Dawkins said.

Dawkins dreams of protecting others and serving as an example.

“I want to show the black community, we can all be in law enforcement,” he said. “I want to show kids, ‘hey, it’s OK to be a Black man in law enforcement.”

CMPD officers go through 24 weeks of training and 14 weeks on the streets with a patrol training officer before they can start responding to calls on their own.

Chief Jennings hopes to continue “Cops and Cleats” by hosting teams from Johnson C. Smith University and UNC-Charlotte next.

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