COPS celebrated the opening of a new shop at Newtech Skill Center in Hillyard on Tuesday.
Newtech’s is the only COPS shop operated out of a school.
COPS shops at Lewis and Clark High School and Community Colleges of Spokane have closed.
Devin Yates is in charge of the new shop. He’s a criminal justice instructor at Newtech and a former officer with the Spokane Police Department.
Newtech is a career and technical education program operated by Spokane Public Schools and open to students throughout the region.
“I really enjoy working here,” Yates said. “We get a very diverse group of kids and they come from all over the area to take the class.”
Part of the criminal justice class is a mandatory community service component, which Yates said students may now fulfill at the COPS shop.
As the program gets going, students will specialize in areas such as neighborhood observation patrols, latent fingerprint lift and sex offender watch.
“They will also get an opportunity to do a police ridealong,” Yates said, adding that his criminal justice curriculum is aimed at helping students figure out if a career in law enforcement is for them.
Criminal justice is a family affair for Yates, the son of retired Spokane police Sgt. Michael Yates. The older Yates is now the president of COPS’ board and the two worked together to establish Newtech COPS.
“We have a strong partnership with Spokane Public Schools,” Michael Yates said. “This shop doesn’t cost us anything: no rent, no charge for computer use or anything.”
He recognizes that COPS has a difficult time attracting younger volunteers.
“Maybe this will help,” he said.
Devin Yates said his students often have misconceptions about what it’s like being in law enforcement.
“They think it’s like in the movies with action 24-7,” Devin Yates said. “They don’t realize all the hard work that goes into law enforcement.”
Through a partnership with Spokane Community College, the Newtech criminal justice course lets students earn college credits.
Half of the 50 students in Devin Yates’ class have already signed up to volunteer for the COPS shop.
“Our goal for the class is that the students will be able to seamlessly transfer into a college criminal justice program,” Devin Yates said. “And to give them a sense of whether that’s really a career for them.”