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Junior Police Academy Shows Kids The Ropes
Prior to entering the mock crime scene Deputy Darwin Hatfield, center, went over a few things for the young Junior Police Academy participants to remember when entering a crime scene. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS

Another year of the Junior Police Academy (JPA) was just completed this past Friday, July 29, where 17 youngsters participated in the week long instruction that was held at Riverbank Police Services in Riverbank. Chief Erin Kiely started this year’s Academy along with Deputy Darwin Hatfield with a basic introduction of what law enforcement is and the history of how it began.

Throughout the week students learned something different each day like constitutional amendments, report writing, and crime scene investigations that were led by five different instructors including deputies, detectives, techs, along with two personnel from the Bomb Squad, two members of the SWAT team, and one K-9 Deputy.

“Many of the kids expressed an interest in becoming Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department Explorer when they reach the age of 16, however even if they do not pursue law enforcement as a career, they will be better informed citizens regarding the various aspects of police work,” said Kiely. “I also think that their experiences at the JPA will make law enforcement that much more approachable to these individuals as they go through life.”

On Wednesday, July 27 the students at the JPA were taught about crime scenes by Deputy Hatfield and I.D. Tech Amber Brown. The students were in a classroom setting where they learned what to look for in crime scenes like the different types of blood splatters and how to interpret a crime scene. The also went over evidence and fingerprints.

“We went over different stories, different theories on how some homicides happen or how some crimes happen,” said Hatfield. “How we determine some crimes were not crimes, they were actually accidental deaths or suicides and we also tried to instill in them that we treat every death as a homicide until proven otherwise.”

The young crime fighter trainees were interactive with their experience by taking their own fingerprints; obtaining latent fingerprints off cans, and investigating a mock crime scene.

At the mock crime scene that was set up, the students had to use what they learned through the academy to determine how the crime was committed and details on how it happened.

The instructors expressed that the students had asked some good questions, gave some great answers, and there was a whole lot of participation at this year’s academy.

“All of the instructors enjoyed their time at the JPA. I had a great time instructing. The kids were sponges and learned a lot of material for just five days’ worth,” Kiely noted. “Based on feedback, the kids enjoyed the block on Crime Scene Investigation the most. They were also pretty impressed with the Bomb Team and SWAT.

“I was specifically told, no offense Chief, but you’re not as cool as SWAT.”