Youth Academy helps boys and girls see police in a different light

By ALLEN MINCEY Staff Writer
Posted 7/16/17

Youngsters can have a fear of police officers, thinking they only make arrests or work crimes. The Cleveland Police Department hopes through special academies with young boys and girls, that they …

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Youth Academy helps boys and girls see police in a different light

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Youngsters can have a fear of police officers, thinking they only make arrests or work crimes. The Cleveland Police Department hopes through special academies with young boys and girls, that they can dispel the notion.

The second Cleveland Police Department Youth Academy of 2017 ended on Friday, with a special graduation ceremony at the CPD Services Center on Church Street. Those who participated received special commendations, a CPD patch and a special thank you from academy instructors and Chief Mark Gibson.

“We want to be more interactive with youth in our city. Our academy is more than discipline, but it also developing character in these boys and girls,” Gibson said at the graduation. “We want them to know more about what we do, and that we do not just make arrests or issue tickets.”

The academy was tested in 2016 with the Cleveland Police Department offering participation to sons and daughters of police officers and Cleveland city employees.

“We had 12 kids participate last year. It went well, so we were ready to do another this year,” said Sgt. Evie West, who is a part of the Community Relations Unit of the department. “We opened it up this year, and the applications began flooding in. We got 80 applications.”

The first academy session consisted of older boys and girls, and with so many applicants, the CPD decided there needed to be three sessions.

The academy showed the youngsters much of what the officers do, covering topics such as defensive tactics, forensics, traffic stops and vehicle searches, patting down and searching for evidence, and the K9 unit.

“They really enjoyed the simulator, and traffic stop, and the mock crime scene session was something they really liked, too,” West said.

CPD officers who served as instructors include Scott Bronze, Jennifer Samples, Bobby Ruth, Kody Fox, Julius Porter, Scott Criddle and April Ratcliff. Several other officers helped during the academy as they talked about their specific fields of expertise. The graduates were asked to name their favorite instructor, and several got votes by the participants.

“I appreciate our staff for working with the kids through the academy. Our officers are very dedicated and love what they do, but they also like to have a good time with these boys and girls as they are in the training academy,” Gibson said. “Hosting an event such as this makes us grown as a part of our community.”

Gibson and West said they wanted to thank Jonathan Cantrell of Caldwell Paving for providing funding for lunch for the academy participants.

West said she had heard from some who are thinking of law enforcement as a possible career.

The last academy for the youth will begin this week, with graduation ceremonies set for late in the week. Cleveland Police said they hope to be able to have more academies for boys and girls in 2018 and beyond.

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