NEW ROCHELLE, NY (PIX11) — Teenagers in New Rochelle are getting firsthand policing experience from the New Rochelle Police Department through a paid program called Learn to Earn Youth Police Academy.

The six-week program gives the students a taste of the law enforcement world while earning some money and making new friends. Commissioner Robert Gazzola says that for the last month, the young adults have spent their summer days with the department learning the ropes.

“What we found is when we get to interact, engage with kids, they get to see us as people and we get to know them,” Gazzola said.

Students from 14 to 17 years old explore their interest in law enforcement.

On Thursday at police headquarters, they met the Critical Incident Unit, which responds to more serious situations with a background in SWAT training. The students geared up just as members of the unit do.

They also got the chance to understand how and why K9’s are incorporated in policing by watching a bite demonstration as one German Shepard ran after one of the members in a full protection suit.

“I love dogs, so seeing the dog just run up and bite him and stuff, it was pretty cool,” said 16-year-old participant Derek Orelus.

CIU also demonstrated how technology is utilized with a Throwbot, which is a small robot system with a camera attached and is thrown into locations not easily accessed, like a second-story window.

Erik Fuerte and other students watched in curiosity.

“I really liked the equipment because those are some things that I didn’t know we had in this community,” Fuerte said.

The students also hopped in the massive bearcat rescue vehicle, which comes to aid in emergency situations such as hurricanes.

The program is nearing its end, but they’ve made memories this summer that will last forever.

“I learned a lot about the community,” Fuerte added. “I learned a lot about the crimes in the community. I learned a lot about the officers.”

One of their last events is next week at Rye Playland, where they will meet with park rangers. One must be 18 years old to become a park ranger, which means many of the students have less than one year to go and the department says it’s a great introduction to policing.