Police department invests in next generation
NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. (WTVQ) – A Kentucky police department is educating teenagers on what police officers do in the community.
Monday, the Nicholasville Police Department began its first-ever police apprentice academy open to Jessamine and Fayette County teens ages 13-18.
“It’s kind of a junior citizens police academy that adults would go through but just in a week-long scenario,” said Nicholasville Police Sergeant Kevin Grimes.
The week-long program is intended to introduce teens to police work, as well as foster positive connections with the teens and their families in the community.
“We have been talking about coming up with a way to recruit kids at an earlier age into law enforcement. And in today’s climate, the way things are and the way people see it–it’s not always true,” said Grimes.
The academy makes the teens feel like real-life police officers with simulations of scenarios an officer might encounter, such as traffic stops. All equipment used, such as belts, safety vests, and guns, are imitation and meant for practice only.
The teens work alongside the police in these simulations, which officers say opens their eyes to the difficult scenarios police face on a day-to-day basis.
“I just got out of the car and he was immediately terrified and reached for his weapon…we explained to them that in real life that’s not what we do, but in your situation that’s what you felt like you had to do. It’s kind of an eye opener for them,” said Grimes.
While yesterday’s first session was an in-classroom orientation to police work, today, the teens got hands-on experience with simulated traffic stops and the different situations an officer might face.
“It was a little nerve-wracking because it was my first one and I was writing a ticket for my first one, but I thought it was really fun and I got to learn a lot,” said Jessamine County student Addyson Pirkle.
The exercises addressed stopping a drunk driver, what to do when a driver gets out of the vehicle, and when is appropriate to write a ticket or issue a warning.
“It was really awkward…like when I was doing the traffic stop it felt pretty good. It was fun,” said Fayette County student Victor Rodriguez.
The program intends to be exciting, but also challenging and realistic.
“This experience has been really fun and really stressful and hard,” said Jessamine County student Emily Peel.
The program will run for the rest of the week, and the department hopes to continue it next summer.