The Paducah Police Department provided a way for teens to experience law enforcement work through the third annual Junior Citizens' Police Academy this week.
The free, five-day summer-camp style program was open to ages 13-18.
"It's good to get involved with kids at this age. It allows them to see us as people, not just as authority figures," said Officer Beau Green. Green remarked that he and other officers involved deliberately did not wear their uniforms during the camp specifically for that purpose.
Green said most participants were there to learn about the realities of law enforcement work in a fun environment, not a boot camp, scared-straight style of environment. Rather than spend most of their time in a lecture setting, officers preferred to keep the youngsters engaged with hands-on activities.
"Ultimately," said Green, "we hope to foster interest in law enforcement as a career."
Green felt the program provided a head start for youth who wanted to pursue law enforcement work, and could lead them to other programs to prepare them for a law enforcement career.
Activities included mock traffic stops, non-criminal conflict resolution with officers playing the roles of agitated to irate citizens, and a mock crime scene investigation.
Today, on the last day of camp, the teens will be taken to the McCracken County Courthouse to present evidence gathered in their mock investigation in the courtroom before real attorneys, and hopefully earn a conviction.
The Junior Citizens' Police Academy started two years ago as a three-day camp. The camp expanded the next year to five days, thanks to grant funding provided by BNSF Railroad.
Officer Chris Bolton stated nearly all materials needed for the program were acquired in the camp's second year, cutting down expenses for this year's program.
Contact Daniel Paxton, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8667.