For six days in July, approximately 75 area kids will have the opportunity to learn about being a police officer and explore what it means to work in law enforcement.
The Cedar Rapids Police Department announced recently that registration currently is open for its 2019 Youth Academy, which gives students in kindergarten through eighth grade to a chance learn about the opportunities a career in law enforcement could offer.
Registration is $25 per child and class sizes are limited, the police department said. As of Monday, Cedar Rapids Police Sgt. Laura Faircloth said spots were still available, but early registration is recommended, as spots fill up quickly.
Classes for students entering fifth through eighth grade will run from 9 a.m. to noon on July 9 and 10. For students entering second through fourth grades, classes will be held from 9 a.m. to noon on July 23 and 24. And for kindergartners and first-graders, classes will run from 9 a.m. to noon on July 30 and 31. All sessions will take place at the police department.
“We’ve been doing this for years, and the kids just love it,” she said. “That’s one of the reasons the classes fill up so quickly, is that the program is well-known and well-liked.”
Faircloth said the Youth Academy program is designed to give kids a broad overview of the various opportunities police work can offer, from working with K-9s to investigations to the Special Response Team. Participants also will get a tour of the department and learn about the officers’ uniforms and the tools they carry.
“What we hope is that the Youth Academy program will get at least some of the kids interested in law enforcement as a future career,” Faircloth said. “But at the same time, doing programs like these also helps the department establish and expand its relationships with the people in this community.”
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It’s not hard to believe that some of the program’s most popular activities are meeting the department K-9s, watching the bomb squad demonstrates its robot’s skills, and learning how to identify fingerprints with the department’s crime scene unit. Additional activities include presentations by the department’s special response team and learning about the physical training officers have to undergo.
For many young people, Faircloth said the only opportunity they might have to interact with law enforcement officers is when something bad happens. That’s why, she said, programs like the Youth Academy are so important — they help officers connect with young people in the community under positive circumstances.
“One of the reason we do programs like this is to establish those relationships with the youth in our community and show them a different side of law enforcement that they might not otherwise see,” she said. “And in establishing those relationships, these kids get a chance to know our officers, they see that we are just people too and hopefully come to see us as nonthreatening. We also hope programs like these will help gain future recruits who interested in becoming officers and joining our department.”
For more information on the Youth Academy, visit the Cedar Rapids Police Department’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cedarrapidspolicedepartment or call (319) 286-5434.
Registration forms can be found on the Police Department’s website at www.cedar-rapids.org/police.
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