‘Ticket to a good future’: ISP troopers befriend boys after traffic stops

Following traffic stops, ISP troopers have built relationships with these boys. (WISH Photo/Nick Natario)

ANDERSON, Ind (WISH) – Traffic stops have led to relationships between Indiana State Police and two central Indiana boys. It’s a connection that’s grown stronger this week after the troopers paid for them to attend ISP camp.

More than 40 kids marched in step Thursday. For four days, campers will learn from various law enforcement agencies.

After fearing his father would go to jail during a traffic stop, Trooper Josh Graves, and Tre'Von Jefferson have become close friends. (Indiana State Police)
After fearing his father would go to jail during a traffic stop, Trooper Josh Graves, and Tre’Von Jefferson have become close friends. (Indiana State Police)

But it’s not all discipline. They also took advantage of the Mounds State Park fields with kickball and football. The activities show kids a different side of a trooper.

“That the people behind the badge aren’t bad,” ISP camp participant John “Wesley” Badger said.

“I like the troopers in the camp,” ISP camp participant TreVon Jefferson said. “They are very nice. We do a lot of fun things.”

For two of the kids, their journey to the camp was a little different. It began when troopers approached their car during a traffic stop and found each of them terrified inside.

“I thought my dad was about to go to prison,” Jefferson said.

“I myself started getting a little teary, and he pulled me aside and said, ‘Hey, everything is fine,’” Badger said.

Everything for the boys was alright. Neither parent went away.

Instead, they gained an ally. For Jefferson, ISP Trooper Josh Graves immediately took an interest. “He was smart, he was funny, he was very articulate,” Graves said.

With Badger, First Sgt. Rich Myers saw potential. “Wesley and I have become the best friends,” Myers said. “We interact at least weekly with each other. He has since moved to another school, but we’ve kept in contact.”

The bond continued after each trooper paid $150 for the boys to attend the camp, a place they know can make a difference.

“I was a camper,” Myers said. “I knew when I wanted to be an Indiana State Police officer when I was in high school and I had attended Respect for Law Camp.”

First Sgt. Rich Myers poses with Wesley Badger during ISP camp. A place Sgt. Myers sent him after the two became friends during a traffic stop. (WISH Photo/Nick Natario)
First Sgt. Rich Myers poses with Wesley Badger during ISP camp. A place Sgt. Myers sent him after the two became friends during a traffic stop. (WISH Photo/Nick Natario)

“I went to the camp when I was about the same age, and I had a lot of fun with it,” Graves added.

Each camper is certainly having fun, but don’t let the joy fool you. They know how lucky to have seen he lights flash behind their parent’s car.

“Thank you very much, very, very much,” Jefferson said. “I wish I could give you a very big hug right now.”

“I got a lot more out of it than a ticket,” Badger said. “I got a ticket to a good future.”

The camp will last until Saturday. Both troopers said they’ll be there to see the boys graduate.

If you’re interested in learning more about sending your kid to one of those camps, click here.

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