More than 50 local children are taking part in the Gonzales Junior Police Summer Safety Program underway at the Gonzales Civic Center.

The free program for children ages 8 to 13 aims to promote a positive relationship with law enforcement officers and teach children how to keep safe by looking out for signs that help is needed, a news release said.

The program, which began 42 years ago as a five-week event, now lasts eight weeks. It is organized by Officer Robin Brunke, Det. Jacob Ory, Officer Sue Ferrari and the Gonzales Police Explorers.

“I grew up being a part of the Junior Police programs, moving onto the Explorers as I reached my teenage years,” Ory said. “From an early age, I knew the importance of viewing the police as the ‘good guys.’ I knew I could go to them in times of worry or trouble. Our goal is still the same — to make every child that comes through this program feel the same way about police officers.”