CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Just as the day is winding down for many Chesapeake deputies, one group of cadets is just getting started with their adapted training academy.
The cadets range in age from 14 to 50 and they all have two things in common: they are local Special Olympians and are interested in law enforcement.
“I’d say this is more intense than playing softball,” said softball Special Olympian Kaitlin Dykes.
“When I was a little boy, I used to always go to the police department … I enjoy being around police officers,” said basketball and soccer Special Olympian Javonta Riddick.
The Special Olympians are also now the hardworking members of Sheriff Jim O’Sullivan’s first Elite Unit.
It was designed to build relationships between law enforcement and local citizens with intellectual disabilities.
The adapted academy is led by Major Chris Pascal, who doesn’t take it easy on them.
“They do not want to be treated any different, they want to be treated the same,” Pascal said.
Five classes in, they’ve learned a little bit of everything from marching to basic laws and how to talk to the public.
However, this past Tuesday, the tables were slid back and it was all about self-defense tactics.
“My favorite is the knee and when you get back with the knee,” smiled Riddick.
“I liked learning how to palm strike,” Dykes said.
These natural born crimefighters cheered each other on every step of the way.
“We are a team here just like we are with the Special Olympics and then we get to put those team skills to work, with this team,” Dykes said.
It doesn’t end here.
They will be tested at the end before they can graduate with an official uniform. If they pass, you’ll see them standing alongside deputies at future community events.
“I believe whole heartedly they’ll all succeed with ease because they want to,” Major Pascal said.
“I love law enforcement, every bit of it. I’m going to keep doing it until I can’t do it anymore,” Riddick said.