Republic Police Department hosts second junior police academy RPD hopes to connect with local middle schoolers through annual youth development program

By: 
Steve Chapman

Zane Small, 12, and Kane Thiemer, 12, practice CPR on a dummy during junior police academy.

The Republic Police Department hosted their second Junior Police Academy during the week of Aug. 10. Sixteen area boys and girls in the sixth through eighth grades attended the academy, which gave them a taste of how real police officers are trained.
Sgt. Brent Kendall, who led the academy, said it was created as a way to reach out to middle-school kids.
“We’ve always had the Explorer Program here at the Republic Police Department, and we’ve always been really engaged in our community outreach and reaching out to our area youth, and we wanted to reach out to a little broader spectrum than we had,” he said. “Our Explorer Programs (lean) more towards the high school generation, high school kids. We would like to reach out to the middle school (because) we know there’s a lot of interest there … in law enforcement (and) the military, even in the middle-school-aged kids. We wanted to give them the opportunity to come forward and experience everything hands-on, and just see that interest blossom.”
 Real world training
During the week-long academy, Kendall said, the kids were introduced to a lot of the same training real police officers undergo. They learned laws and procedures and practiced handcuffing, traffic stops, building searches. They got to see how police officers handle DWIs, learned CPR and were shown how service calls were made.
“They … experience everything that we go through in a full-time academy, just a very small snapshot of it,” Kendall said.
The training doesn’t just take place in a classroom. The kids got hands-on practice in police skills during the academy, with several volunteers helping out.
“We have fantastic role-players here,” Kendall said. “Sometimes the Explorers help out. We also have the alumni from our Citizens Police Academy come down. We’ll block off a section out here outside the police department, and we’ll set up a traffic stop. We’ll have the role players outside in a car; we’ll set up the patrol car officer to catch drunk driving because they’re not old enough for that yet. We’ll have it set up for them, and then we’ll walk them through it. The first time, I’ll be by their side, and I’ll let them know that this is exactly how we would do it in a live traffic stop, and the rest of the night, they’ll go up there on their own, they’ll experience it on their own. We throw some curveballs in there so they can have some fun and excitement. (The kids) get to experience the whole nine-yards there.”
Participants praise program
Kane Thiemer, 12, was in the first academy and decided to participate again.
“I had so much fun last year that I decided to do it (again) this year,” he said.
Also taking part in the academy was Troy Halfhill, 14. Troy said his favorite part of the academy was the building search.
“We got to go around the building and search for people that were hiding,” he said. “So, we had to have one person making sure that no one was going to sneak behind us or try and get past us to where we didn’t notice they were gone, and two or three other people would go into the room and search it while looking for people.”
Another participant was Emma Reed, 11. Emma said she enjoyed practicing the traffic stops.
“We got to do traffic stops,” she said, “and we got to make up why they were stopped, and if they ran away, we had to go catch them.”
Another part of the academy Emma enjoyed was an activity that simulated drunk driving, in which the kids each drove a Gator while wearing goggles that mimicked the vision of an inebriated person.
Sgt. Kendall said that the Republic Police Department hopes to expand the academy so it can be offered at least twice a year in the future.
 

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Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712
www.lawrencecountyrecord.com

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