In the year 2022, there is a public divide between police and civilians.
People believe if you support police, you support police brutality. If you stand up against police brutality, you don’t support police.
Those are just some of the ways things are misconstrued in America today.
Unfortunately, there are bad officers and there are good officers.
Locally, there is one officer who is just trying to make a difference in the community he serves. That officer is J’Mon Wells with the East Canton Police Department.
Officer Wells has been with ECPD since the beginning of the summer and has become a figure of authority and influence in the village of just over 1,500 people.
Officer Wells is just trying to make a difference, one child at a time.
We all need someone to look up to, to respect, and to contact for guidance and advice. Officer Wells is launching a program to do just that.
The name of the program is going to be called the S.M.I.L.E. foundation, which stands for Staying Moving In Life Everyday.
“You have to smile. You have to wake up. There’s no reason to wake up upset. That’s the purpose,” Officer Wells said. “There are so many challenges that you have to get past.”
At the August 1 village council meeting, he talked to council about his plans to start the program.
He asked the village for permission to use the second floor of village hall for the program and council unanimously voted in favor 6-0.
But what does this mentoring program consist of and why is it important for a local police officer to be engaged with the local youth.
It’s simple. To humanize the badge. Let children know that they can trust officers.
“I think it’s important because nowadays, a lot of people, kids specifically, don’t like police officers or we get a bad rap and it shies the youth away from us,” Officer Wells said. “This program is to bring us closer because there are a lot of kids who need the guidance.”
For some people, their only encounter with law enforcement is when a law is broken. Officer Wells wants people to know that you can communicate with police on a personal level as well. The officer can be seen at East Canton High School football games playing in the grass with the local youth and tossing a football back-and-forth. Wells said he connects with them.
“When you’re talking to them, there have been times that I needed something from them, and I could go to them and they would help me [with important information].”
Wells grew up in a single-mother household with a father in and out of jail. He called his mom a “Super Mom,” but said everyone needs a male figure in their life.
“My dad and I weren’t close. He chose the path that he was on. It hurt to not have a male figure in my life, but you still need that male role to lead you in the right path.”
He said that pushed him to be a better man.
“It made me want to be a man who was there when I had kids,” he said. “I want it to show the other kids that yes, we need our fathers, but you can still make it. I can relate to people who don’t have fathers.”
Officer Wells is the father to two young daughters himself.
He plans to officially start accepting applications for the S.M.I.L.E. Foundation later in the year and begin the program in January of 2023.