It isn’t quite as rigorous as an actual Police Academy or as funny as the popular movie series produced by Paul Maslansky, but the Teen Academy provides teens with a similar experience of real life police training.
The academy, which is in its fourth year sponsored by the Zionsville Police Department, was held from Monday, June 11, through Friday, June 15.
ZPD Sgt. Sam Dennemann, who directs the camp, said the academy provides a lot of experiences for the teens.
“The academy started with the basic principal of making it something that would give any teen with an interest in law enforcement an idea of what the Police Academy is like,” he said. “It also shows teens that we’re human and not always the bad guy.”
Dennemann said the campers go through a lot of different types of training throughout the week.
“We do some watered down traffic stops so they can see how dangerous that is and how alert the officers have to be,” he said. “We do some watered down defense tactics. It gives them an idea of self-defense. We do some very watered down firearms. They shoot Airsoft rifles. We do that to prepare them for a building search scenario, which the kids always enjoy doing.”
Dennemann said the teens also got to experience what it is like to be a crime scene technician.
“Kids watch shows like CSI,” he said. “The course shows them some of the things that go into analyzing a crime scene and seeing that there is more to it than just a 30 minute analysis.”
Dennemann said often times the favorite part of the week is the canine demonstration.
“The kids always love seeing the dogs that the Carmel and Lebanon police departments use,” he said. “We do have one guy that will put on the pads and have a dog chase him and bring him down. The kids get to see the level of control the officers have over the dogs and how they work together.”
Dennemann said the most important part of the camp is creating a relationship with the students.
“It brings us closer together,” he said. “They will see us on the streets and know they can approach us and wave to us.”