MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - We meet a member of Meridian's Gang Unit. Sidney Coleman says he works hard to prevent kids from joining gangs and getting them off the streets once they do.
"I've always wanted to help people," Coleman says.
Sydney Coleman is a member of the Meridian Police Dept. gang unit. He has been with the department for five years.
"I worked with the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics and with gangs you deal with drugs. I think that's what they saw in me," Coleman says.
Coleman has been in law-enforcement for 22 years, but before that he played football.
"I got a scholarship and played at the University of Southern Mississippi five years," Coleman says.
After Southern Miss he went into the NFL playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Arizona Cardinals for a total of five years. Coleman's passion for helping others through law enforcement began before he started his football career. He says his goal with Meridian's Gang Unit is taking preventative measures.
"I just hope that we can possibly change some young kid's lives. Making sure they don't go in that direction. That's what I'm hoping," Coleman says.
Coleman says gang problems in Meridian involve young people all too often he says it's all about reaching out to them and showing them there's another way.
"Stay out of gangs, be respectful to the police and the police will be respectful toward you," Coleman says.
Changing people’s lives is something Coleman says he has accomplished over the years.
"I've had people that I've put in prison come back and tell me, 'Man if you wouldn't have done this, maybe I wouldn't be alive today," Coleman says.
He says he has the full support of his family and there are no plans of leaving law enforcement.
"I really hadn't put a timeline on it. I'm enjoying what I'm doing. The sky is the limit," Coleman explains.
To stay up to date with our First Responders series tune in every Sunday night for Newscenter 11 at 10:00 p.m. and on Good Morning Meridian on Monday mornings.