The Chapel Hill Police Department will host its GEMS program, which stands for "Girls. Empowered. Motivated. Spectacular." for the first time since 2019.
The department will hold sessions every Thursday for young women in the community from May 11 through June 15 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Applications for the program are due on April 30.
“It’s a six-week series of hands-on activities for young women, ages 14 to 19, to explore future opportunities in community-oriented or community-facing careers such as public safety,” Celisa Lehew, the Chapel Hill police chief, said.
The CHPD began the program in 2019, and according to Lehew, was successful in its first session. After having planned the second session, the police department had to postpone the program because of the pandemic.
Lehew said members of the police department came up with the idea for the program after seeing fewer women involved in law enforcement. The department had been successful in recruiting campaigns and wanted to extend the opportunity of seeing frontline workers to young women in the community.
Sgt. Prairie Osborne, the lead organizer of the GEMS program, said it is important for girls to have representation in local police.
“Thinking back to where I grew up, in the western part of the state, we didn’t — or I didn’t personally — have any exposure to women police officers,” Osborne said. “I think this program is a great opportunity for young women in our community to see women in different positions, especially those related to public safety.”
In addition to featuring law enforcement representatives, Osborne said the program will allow participants to meet crisis workers, a judge, an attorney, a firefighter, those who work in evidence analysis positions and patrol officers.