Youth Police Academy big success due to help
Letter to the Editor
The 2006 Youth Police Academy could not have been done without the support of so many people and agencies.
Of the twenty-two kids that participated this year, eleven received either a partial (usually $100) or full ($175) scholarship. Notice that we had fifty-three (53) instructors!! Those fifty-three instructors were from at least twenty-two different agencies. This was truly a joint effort to help our children and although the list is lengthy, I hope that you will print it!
Chuck McMullen and I started this Academy (with the support of Dr. Susan McBride, Sheriff Tim Hawsey, and Chief David Lovelace) six years ago. Our goal was to provide a positive role model to children and an opportunity to see that law enforcement officers are people, too. We wanted those children who had a genuine interest in law enforcement to see what it is really all about-not just what is shown on TV.
A small child is really hurt when a parent sees a law enforcement officer and tells the child "That officer is going to get you!" Parents should be teaching their children that a law enforcement officer is the child's friend-that's who the child needs to go to for help!
In the academy the kids learn that a law enforcement officer's job is (as the motto says) to protect and to serve. Although they go on the firing range, they are taught that weapons of any kind are always a last resort. They get a chance to interact with law enforcement officers and see them for who they are-fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles, brothers, and sisters-just people trying to help other people and keep them safe.
We teach team work in the academy. They run as individuals the same obstacle course that anyone runs in order to be accepted into the "real" police academy. Then they run as a team. I think that it is interesting to note that the team that had the best time this year was the team with our "special" recruit. They worked together to insure that all team members were able to cross the barriers and other obstacles and that no one was left behind.
We also had two members of YPA-Class # 6 who will not be returning. Meagan Cutts has been to all the academies. She is 17 and so will be too old next year. Kevin Blackburn has been to all but one academy. He, too, is 17 and will not be able to return. However, we hope that they will come back as assistants.
We have several former academy graduates who are currently in college. At least two that I know of are majoring in Criminal Justice. I think that all of our former recruits will tell you that they learned teamwork as well as leadership skills in the academy even if they choose not to pursue a career in law enforcement.
We would like to say THANK YOU to all who helped make Youth Police Academy-Class Six successful.