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Youth Police Academy Gearing Up

Updated: Friday, June 13 2014, 11:30 AM CDT

CHAMPAIGN -- It's a mock police academy for students involving lectures and role playing.

"This is a way for them, for us to both get together and to dispel a lot of myths that we may have about each other...We give them a better insight of what we do in law enforcement", says School Resource Officer Jonathan Westfield. The program lasts for about a week. Middle school students put in four hours a day. High school students stay for six hours.

Nyah Dees, 12, says "I think it's fascinating. Its fun and you get to have activities and they show you how to be a good cop".

The program encourages students that ultimately want to become police officers.

"I think it's fascinating, like how they protect and serve and how just by doing small things can affect big stuff", says 14-year-old Lavelle Flemming.

Champaign police officers train students in various areas including conflict resolution, radio communication and use of force techniques.

"They also do crime scene processing where they will be allowed to learn crime scene processing techniques in addition to going through an obstacle course", says Officer Westfield.

Part of the youth academy obstacle course simulates some of the physical activity officers go through on a day to day bases.

It's hard and sometimes it's tiring but I think it's really fun", says Dees.

For many students, the training is a great way to learn, blow off some steam and be among their peers.

Chase Mingee, 13, says "I think it's something to do during the summer and it's just fun to hang out with kids and stuff".

The Youth Police Academy is a free program. They start taking applications in the spring of each year. The Youth Police Academy has been in effect since 2003. Nearly 200 students have graduated from the program.

Youth Police Academy Gearing Up

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