GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids Police Officer Michael Harris has had the ride of his life during his almost 24-years on the force.
He’s filled roles from officer, to father figure and mentor at the Boys & Girls Club.
“I go and check on some of our kids that attend the (Boys & Girls) club,” Harris said. “For me to see kids overcome obstacles in their lives, it’s like me looking in the mirror because I’m looking at myself.”
For decades, Harris has made children his priority, whether it’s throwing them a football at recess or teaching them police are there to help not harm.
“When they get to see officers of color, kids are like, man, that’s something maybe that I can become,” he said.
Twenty-year-old Isaac Young met Harris at the Boys & Girls Club when he was 11. As a boy, he said he’s always wanted to be a man in blue, partly because Harris has always been a positive role model.
“Growing up, I’ve looked up to police officers,” Young said. “Without him, I probably would not be going through all my (prerequisites) to get into the police academy.”
Both men built a stronger relationship when Young signed up for the club’s Pathways to Policing program at age 17.
It’s a 12-week course that introduces grade school children to every aspect of law enforcement. The program started in 2017.
“Officer Harris knows that if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be on this path,” Young said.
Great responsibility comes with wearing the badge. It’s not just about who Harris is watching, but most importantly, who’s watching him.
“For me to see him progress and become the person he is right now is unbelievable,” Harris said.
Young said he wants to strengthen the relationship between his community of color and the police. He plans to take his first step toward change when he enrolls in Grand Rapids Community College’s police academy.