Among the five new officers that graduated from the New Castle County Police Academy and joined the Middletown Police Department in March is Dakevis Howard.

A native of Wilmington, Officer Howard, 26, brings important experience working as a counselor to troubled youth. He also spent time working with parolees and learn about the process they go through after the initial arrest.

We asked him more about his family life, his work experience, and how he expects to make a difference in the force.

Q Tell our readers a little bit about your life and family.

A I was raised in north Wilmington by my mother and I also have an older brother who has a little girl, so I’m an uncle.

My mother, Flora, has been my everything and always pushed me to where I needed to be in life.

In the city, it’s very easy for kids to get sidetracked and do things that they shouldn’t. My mother kept me busy – she got me involved in sports, camps, programs – anything that was available, she pushed me into them. She made very good decisions for me.

I also played football from an early age all through school and college.

Q Tell our readers about your education and previous work experience.

A I attended Concord High School and graduated from Wesley College.

A pre-requisite for graduation was having an internship and one of my professors advised me to check out the Dover Police Department. I did 152 hours of driving of ride-alongs with the department and it went from there.

After the internship and graduation I became a certified juvenile delinquent counselor in Glenn Mills, Pennsylvania. I worked with a lot of kids – many of them from Philadelphia. It was a big transition for me to be in that job, coming from being a student raising my hand to ask and answers questions, to being a counselor to all these teenagers asking me questions.

After that I worked as an intern at probation and parole in New Castle, shadowing other officers. I was continuing to build my resume and I finally applied to the Middletown Police Department.

Q How do you expect to make a difference in the police force?

A Since I’m new to Middletown I want to start off my building positive relationships with the community. Once they get to know me and who I am, I hope that they will have a better understanding of what we do here.

There are many negative images in the media, but that’s what community policing is all about – changing those perceptions that people may have.

With having good relationships with resident comes more cooperation. More investigations will be completed and it’ll make a difference.