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Junior Police Academy Offers Opportunity For Local Youths
Students in the Junior Police Academy hosted in Riverbank got to be hands on with some of the gear that the SWAT team uses like this shield that they each got to hold. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS

Riverbank Police Services has given the youth in the area an opportunity to attend the Junior Police Academy, which is a week long course that includes classroom type instruction and hands on demonstrations. The course is for youngsters that are in sixth, seventh, or eighth grades that have a ‘C’ average or better. This year’s academy had 17 students from Modesto, Oakdale, Hughson, and Riverbank, with all students between the ages of 11 to 14.

On Monday the students began class with introductions and Chief Erin Kiely and Deputy Hatfield went over the history of policing and the origin of modern policing. The students then got to participate in a mock traffic stop where they learned why patrol and traffic enforcement is important, how to activate patrol car lights and sirens and procedures regarding traffic stops.

“They had to identify a violation, communicate over the radio, make contact with the driver and identify them, do a radio records check with a mock dispatcher, then re-contact the driver and decide to lecture and release or issue a citation,” explained Kiely. “The students were able to investigate a mock crime scene and were instructed by a Deputy and Crime Scene Technician that gave a presentation on investigating crime scenes.”

Detective Layton instructed the class on Tuesday, a day that included learning codes, the phonetic alphabet, call signs, and crime code sections.

“I kind of just have a passion to work with kids,” said Layton. “It (academy) is for a good cause and keeping these kids busy. They are not getting in trouble which is important. Some of these kids have a real interest in law enforcement and they aren’t here just to have fun.”

The class was then treated to a demonstration by the SWAT team. They all gathered around the SWAT truck and were able to see all the gear that they have to wear and what it is for. The students also got to try on the gear themselves. The robot was of interest to the class and had features like a 360 degree camera and the ability to climb stairs. They even got to take a ride in the SWAT truck.

“The Bomb Team, Dive Team and SWAT Team were all a big hit as usual,” expressed Kiely. “The group’s favorite bomb team item was the robots. With dive it was the dive suit and with SWAT it was the armored vehicle.”

The youngsters learned a variety of things throughout the week like interviewing witnesses and report writing to name a few.

The final day of Junior Police Academy ended with a graduation ceremony.

“The group of kids were outstanding and a pleasure to have at RPS,” stated Kiely. “The 17 kids completed the JPA and they received a certificate recognizing them for doing so. The Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department intends to put on yet another JPA at RPS next year. We want to encourage anyone who, next summer, has a child with an interest in law enforcement, or the criminal justice system in general, to apply.”