Junior academy teaches youngsters more than just law enforcement
'Where they start to where they end is unbelievable,' says program leader
KINGMAN - The Kingman Police Department is accepting applications through May 14 for its Junior Police Academy, which offers middle school students in grades 6-8 a chance to learn about law enforcement first-hand.
More than 160 kids last year applied for 50 open slots in the four-week program that is patterned after the same process officers undergo before becoming certified.
Sgt. Lyman Watson, who runs the junior academy, said the program provides kids with an in-depth look at police work while also giving them the tools to make more responsible decisions. He said that many of the cadets who complete the academy undergo amazing transformations.
"Where they start to where they end is unbelievable," he said.
The academy is in its fifth year in Kingman and is patterned after a similar program in Michigan where Chief Robert DeVries used to work. Watson said he wasn't terribly excited when he was first given the assignment of running the academy, but that his opinion changed after he saw how much the cadets gained from the experience.
"It's turned out to be one of the best things I've done in law enforcement," Watson said.
The junior police officers tour a crime lab to see how evidence is processed, hold a mock trial where they play different legal roles and visit the Juvenile Detention Center to see where bad choices might lead.
And just like real police officers, the cadets undergo physical training, which culminates in a visit to the challenge course at Mohave Community College.
"Every year we have some kid who is terrified of heights that leaves there pretty proud of themselves after walking the tight wire," Watson said.
The program's low cost of $30 per student is made possible through fundraisers and donations from citizens and local businesses, including Taco Bell, Wal-Mart and KFC.
The only cost to the city for the program is the officer's salary.
"It is truly an example of what we call 'community policing,'" Watson said.
Two sessions of 25 cadets each are available. The first runs June 14 through July 8. The second session runs July 12 through Aug. 5.
Classes are held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and primarily take place at Kingman Academy of Learning Intermediate School on Harrison Street.
The program is only open to students in grades 6, 7 and 8, with an emphasis put on the 8th graders since it is their last chance to participate in the program, Watson said.
Applications are due May14, no exceptions, and can be picked up at the Kingman Police Department, 2730 East Andy Devine.
The selection process for the academy is done through a lottery process. Cadets will be notified by Friday, May 21, if they are selected.