Law Enforcement Club returns to Ponte Vedra High School

PONTE VEDRA, Fla. — Inside Ponte Vedra High School, there’s a club that many students say is “unique.”

It’s called the Law Enforcement Club, and it’s returning for the 2022-2023 school year.

STORY: Survey for veterans, relatives and caregivers of veterans, to shape future policy in Jacksonville

Students and staff in the school rely daily on St. Johns County deputy Jared Monie, the school resource officer, to help keep them safe.

“All these kids here at the school,” says Monie. ”Responsible for all 2000 of them.”

Monie says his job isn’t just about safety.

“Any time day or night, they know that they can come and talk to me,” says Monie.

He says it’s also his duty to help break down stigmas about law enforcement.

“I want these kids to get a different impression about law enforcement, a positive impression,” says Monie.

STORY: Saharan dust headed toward the Jacksonville area again: Here’s what to expect

He says that starts by sitting down and having a conversation with them.

Monie says it’s good for the students to know what to expect if they were to get stopped by law enforcement.

At least once a month, Monie sits down with the students, he is sometimes joined by other officers or deputies, and just talks with them.

They’ve discussed traffic stops, how to use an AED and tourniquet usage.

STORY: Florida man filming sunrise killed when sand dune collapses

Student Paulina Sidhu says the club has been helpful in more ways than just one.

“There’s a lot of negative stigmas about police officers,” says Sidhu.

She says such conversations help break down those stigmas.

“It’s these kinds of conversations that help teens and police better understand one another,” says Sidhu.

“We have no idea who were stopping or what’s in the car,” explained Monie during one of the club’s meetings.

“A lot of new guys are thinking the worst, they’re thinking ‘Oh he’s going for a gun,’” said Monie in during a meeting. “Before you just reach say ‘hey my wallet is in my console.’”

STORY: 3 dead in shooting at Florida Narcotics Anonymous meeting

“I’ve learned that not only are they police officers but they’re people,” says Sidhu. “It’s changed a lot for me.”

Monie has been on the force for 17 years, but he says participating in activities that allow him to build relationships with students are by far the most rewarding parts of his job.

“We’re here to help them, we’re here to support them, and do anything that we can for him and all these kids here at the school,” says Monie.