F’ville teaches middle schoolers in Junior Police Academy

Fayetteville Police Officer Zac Mittenzwei works with several of the 20 Fayette County middle school students participating this week in the department’s 7th Annual Junior Police Academy. Aside from training on vehicle license checks, the young students attend classes in areas such as defensive tactics, crime scenes, the use of force, K-9 activities, fingerprinting and DUI law. Photo/Ben Nelms.

Being a police officer is much more involved than what many people may think. That reality is being driven home this week as 20 students from middle schools around Fayette County participate in the Fayetteville Police Department’s 7th Annual Junior Police Academy.

“This is our 7th annual ... we are so proud of our officers and detectives,” said department spokesperson Debbie Chambers. “This is one of the greatest programs we are allowed to do. Thanks go out to Chief Heaton, our officers and detectives, and to Wal-Mart who always sponsors the JPA.”

The academy began Monday and will continue through most of this week. One of the first exercises of the week was a classroom activity where officers seated themselves in a mock representation of a car that had just been pulled over by an officer. Fayetteville officers played the part of male and female adults in the front seat, accompanied by a mouthy adolescent in the back seat. And, of course, the Junior Police participants played the part of the cop that had pulled the vehicle over.

It was a sight to behold. The young academy participants got a quick look at what officers sometimes go through when making a vehicle stop. Officers after the exercise critiqued their performance.

The class then moved outside to the police department parking lot where multiple scenarios were utilized in having participants approach a vehicle that had been pulled over and a driver’s license requested.

The week will continue to be filled with information and training in areas such as gang instruction, the use of force, team competitions, defensive tactics, crime scenes, taking fingerprinting, K-9 activities and DUI law.

Remarking on the scope of activities and information supplied to the youthful group, academy participant Shelby Green said, “I commemorate the officers because its not as easy as it seems. I thought they were just out to get you but they are really out to help the community.”

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