Terre Haute Living August 2018 - Page 18

Indiana State Conservation Officer Matt Voss- mer, right, helps Jr. Police Academy student Hunter Callahan put on Vossmer’s scuba gear during the academy on June 27 at Otter Creek Middle School. Academies are offered three times each sum- mer, with sessions in the south (Honey Creek Middle School), north (Otter Creek Middle), and in the city (Woodrow Wilson Middle). Partici- pants are a 50-50 mix of boys and girls, and each session inevitably fills up. Deputy Sean Trevarthan, school resource of- ficer for the Vigo County Sherriff ’s Department, has been organizing Junior Police Academy for the past nine years. Retired Terre Haute Police Department Officer Phil Haley started the program 18 years ago with one session of 30 kids. Today they offer three sessions with a total of 420 youth. Haley still volunteers with the program. “Law enforcement, in some communities, is not well received and many kids never have a pos- itive, hands-on experience with a police officer,” said Trevarthan. “For a lot of kids, this is the only interaction they have with police, and we want it to be a positive interaction, not a negative. This is one of the tools we have to do that because parents and kids get to see a different side of police work.” A day in the life Junior Police Academy includes several activities designed to teach kids about every facet of police work. The days are a mix of hands-on activities and presentation, including bomb squad and live Taser demonstrations, a SWAT presentation, and visits from the local K-9 dogs. Kids ride in golf carts and police cars in obstacles and simulated chase exercises, engage in a tug-of- war, and learn about gun safety and participate in a paintball shooting activity. They also listen to an FBI presentation and a motivational speech by Brett Eastburn who has Quad-membral Limbs Deficiency. The week ends with a graduation ceremony with Mayor Duke Bennett, the Terre Haute chief of police, Vigo County sheriff and several other officers and volunteers. Junior Police Academy is a collaborative ef- fort with support from the Vigo County Sherriff’s Office, Terre Haute Police Department, West Terre Haute Police Department, and Indiana State University Police. Trevarthan sees this as evidence the community and law enforcement work well together. “We’re very lucky we have a community that supports this type of program,” he said. Terre Haute Police Department Detective Todd Kenney has been involved with Junior Po- lice Academy for 15 years. All five of his children participated in the academy and look forward to going back each year. Kennedy also likes that the program gives police officers a chance to interact with the Terre Haute families and kids. “The academy is a great opportunity for kids to see what law enforcement is all about,” said Kennedy. “But not only that, they get to see that police officers care about them, and we like to have fun too.” Participants pay a nominal fee of $35 to partake in Junior Police Academy, which includes lunch and beverages, a T-shirt, graduation medal, and the approximately 14,000 paintballs used in the exercises. The remainder of the program’s $15,000 annual budget is covered through dona- tions from businesses and community organi- zations, and the police and sheriff’s departments. Training the future of the force Because Junior Police Academy has been a community staple for 18 years, many of the kids who participated as cadets have stayed involved in the program as counselors and assistants. Bo Turner first attended the Academy when she completed fourth grade. Today – 12 years later – she is a Master’s of Business Administra- The Wabash Valley’s Authorized Jeep Dealer Introducing the All New Jeep Lineup 18 Terre Haute Living • August 2018 tribstar.com/terrehauteliving