Police Academy 9
By By Adam Prestridge
Thirteen-year-old Karen Eiland wiped the sweat from her brow after popping off a few rounds from a .40 caliber handgun in Tuesday morning’s heat.
Eiland was just one of 44 youth from Escambia County, Ala. and Escambia County, Fla. to participate in this year’s ninth annual Youth Police Academy training.
City, county, state and federal law enforcement agents gave of their time this week to help properly train teenagers in the firing and handling of handguns, as well as teaching them the tools of their trade.
For many of the teenagers, it was the first time they had shot a handgun. Brewton’s Jarrett Dillashaw, 13, was one of several that fell in that category.
The firing range was 15-year-old Darius Pettway’s favorite part of the police academy.
Tuesday was the only day training was held in Atmore. That morning, students had the opportunity to fire off several rounds at the shooting range with the assistance of instructors, which were made up of law enforcement agents from across the state. Those instructors included officers from the Atmore, Brewton, East Brewton and Flomaton police departments, deputies with the Escambia County, Alabama and Florida sheriff’s offices, Alabama State Troopers and numerous other law enforcement officers representing various state and federal agencies.
Sanborn said several of the volunteer officers took vacation in order to help with the academy and others’ time was donated by their respective departments.
In addition to firearms training Tuesday, youth also had the opportunity to learn how to repel, worked on team building exercises through an obstacle course and worked through the same physical agility course law enforcement officers in Alabama have to pass including push-ups, sit-ups and a mile and a half run.
The firearms training, which was held at the shooting range north of Atmore, was only a small portion of this year’s Youth Police Academy training.
Monday, officials from Whiting Field in Milton, Fla. joined the group in Brewton and displayed some of the tactics they use in law enforcement, and prepared field identity kits where they took fingerprints and DNA from each of the cadets. The SWAT team from Escambia County, Fla. also performed a demonstration on Monday.
Throughout the remainder of the week, participants learned defensive tactics and had the opportunity to drive golf carts through an obstacle course wearing “drunk” goggles. Crime scene investigators from the Department of Forensic Science also gave a presentation and gave students the chance to perform hands-on activities such as DNA analysis and collecting evidence. Members of the Alabama Bureau of Investigation bomb squad gave a presentation as well as members of E-911 and the Escambia County Rescue Squad.
Sanborn said despite a troubled economy and the lowering the amount of scholarship money available for the program, this year’s academy broke the all-time attendance record.
Sanborn added that the academy is not just intended for those interested in entering the field of law enforcement.
Participants in the Youth Police Academy were housed in the dorms at the Jefferson Davis Community College Brewton campus where many of the programs were held.
The academy’s graduation was held Friday at Woodfin-Patterson Auditorium.