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Anacostia High School to open public safety academy in fall of 2016

Anacostia Academy, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. (ABC7 photo)

With a grandfather who proudly served on the police force, 15-year-old Sequan Canon thinks he could possibly do the same, that is, if his basketball dream falls through.

"If I don't play sports, yeah, it's something that I want to do," Canon told ABC7 News.

Anacostia High School students like Canon and those who live across the District now have a place to pursue law enforcement career goals before they reach college. A public safety academy opens this fall at the school.

Anacostia's principal Lloyd Bryant explained, "We're offering a unique pathway which typically starts in the 10th grade. Students have to make a selection. We'll start the recruiting process at the end of their ninth grade year. Hopefully, we're going to engage around 50 students the first year."

In order to become a police officer, students must earn 60 college credits. This public safety academy allows students at Anacostia High School to earn six of them.

The program is a partnership between Anacostia High, the Metropolitan Police Department and the DC Police Foundation. "The chief has a very high retirement right now. Many of the officers are the age to retire. She's attempting to hire 300 officers per year for the next five years," DC Police Foundation Executive Director Joseph Persichini shared.

The public safety academy can help fill that gap in the police force by not only providing course work, but in-school mentors, Metropolitan Police Department tours, job shadowing, paid internships and for those who graduate from the program: free college tuition.

It's an opportunity to make the kind of difference Canon saw his grandfather make. "He became more respectful to people. He helped a lot of people. Being around him, you just knew you were safe," he reflected.

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