Sunnyside partners with Tucson police to give students career opportunities in public safety

First day of school for Sunnyside School District
Published: Aug. 3, 2022 at 6:35 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - It’s the first day back at school for students in the Sunnyside Unified School District, and they’re coming back to lots of changes to help keep everyone safe.

A new partnership with Tucson Police Department allows Sunnyside High School students to learn what it’s like to be behind the badge, giving them an opportunity to serve and protect their community.

Sunnyside teacher and retired police officer Patti Thibaut said the goal is to build a group of students interested in careers in public safety.

“TPD Chief (Chad) Kasmar met up with our superintendent and said, ‘I need community service officers and I want the kids from Sunnyside to be able to apply,’” Thibaut said.

Through the partnership, students will be able to learn the tools they need to succeed at school, pass the tests, apply and hopefully fill those much-needed jobs at TPD.

Thibaut, who worked as a police officer for over 20 years, is teaching the program and has taught law and public safety courses for years at Sunnyside.

“I’m not chasing the bad guys, I’m preparing the next generation to chase them,” Thibaut said.

She said new program will set up students for a career but it will also give them an opportunity to go back to college for free down the road. Thibaut said that might not be possible without the new partnership.

“Realistically for a lot of our kids, college is a dream but financing college Is unrealistic. They don’t know how they’re going to do it,” Thibaut said. “If you’re making $20-$25 an hour, if you stay home with Mom and Dad for a couple years, you have tuition money but on top of that the city offers tuition reimbursement.”

Next year, she said the goal is to provide a Community Resource Officer Academy at Sunnyside. This year she will teach and get students prepared for their career after graduation.

So far a lot of students have already shown interest, she said a majority of those students are women.

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