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      Police mentoring program helping teens stay focused

      The Florence Police Department is sponsoring a mentoring program called, "Cops Helping Kids."

      It seeks to teach teenage boys and girls about the real consequences of bad choices.

      The program targets at-risk youth and those who have never been in trouble.

      "What we're trying to do is show the children that one bad decision can change their whole lives. But, we also want them to see that they can rise about it. We want them to make good decisions and become good productive citizens in the City of Florence," said Officer Jamie McColl with Florence police.

      Four girls who all live in took part in the program's one day session Friday at Palmetto Street Church of God in Florence.

      The teens heard from community leaders, but things really hit home when police brought in convicted felons serving decades in state prisons.

      The inmates shared stories with the girls about life behind bars.

      Nyla Smith, 15, said the inmates' stories touched her and is motivation to stay on track.

      "Just more knowledge. Making me have a different outlook on peer pressure. I want to have a whole different outlook. It's just made me happier," said Nyla Smith.

      Each girl received a certificate for their participation in the program.

      The officers plan to mentor the teens throughout their high school careers.

      "It's not a one day thing. It's gone be from now on. We gonna be in their lives. And we let them know this. We care about the children and we want to let them know that we care about them," said Officer McColl.

      The Florence Housing Authority is working with the police to provide teenagers to take part in the mentoring program.

      Officials with the Housing Authority said they've seen a difference in the teens who have gone through the program.