SIDNEY — It’s that time of the year again when participating Shelby County high school students will learn about the policing profession during Sidney Police Department’s annual Teen Law Enforcement Workshop June 7-9.
The “mini” teen police academy was created to educate local high school students about their local police department and the profession of policing. An additional goal of the program is to enhance communication between Shelby County youth and the police who serve them.
Since the program’s debut in 2017, 50 teens have graduated. Last year the workshop was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, 13 students are signed up to participate in the three-day workshop from 8 a.m to 5 p.m.
“This program is for anyone interested in law enforcement or being an officer after 21 (years of age),” said Community Resources Officer/program director Bryce Stewart.
The program aims to provide students with a different perspective on real life police work versus what is portrayed on television.
Students who participate in the workshop will tour the police department and learn about:
• The police department’s hiring process;
• Patrol, detective, and community resource unit operations;
• Real life versus television policing;
• The use of force and decision making while using the use of force simulator;
• Police K9, SWAT, and drug unit operations;
• Cyber crime/technology;
• Mock crime investigation;
• Health, nutrition, and first aid applications.
In past years, students were also given a tour of the Shelby County Jail and court systems, but depending on the situation due to COVID-19 precautions, they may not be able to tour the jail or Sidney Municipal Court this year. If those tours are not an option, Stewart hopes attendees will be able to meet with Shelby County Sheriff Jim Frye to learn about the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.
“Hopefully it can be arranged somehow,” Stewart said, “at least to meet the new sheriff and they’ll be able to ask him questions.”
On the morning of June 7, students will gather in the lobby of the police department and then orientation and in-class learning will be conducted upstairs in the department’s GOC/training room.
The first day will be welcoming students and they will receive a t-shirt for participating. Attendees will also be given a tour of the police department. Each day will include presentations on the various roles of officers, from detectives, to officers on the street, community resources officer to K-9 officers; as well as tactical response team (TRT), homicide investigation and mock crimes demonstrations. Participants will also re-enact various scenarios to understand how quickly officers must make a decision about how to respond using the use of force simulator. These situations could be issuing a traffic ticket or responding to a domestic violence call.
“They will learn how to respond to the situation, whether to use a taser, or call for back up, or how to de-escalate a situation,” Stewart said. “We use the simulator a lot for training purposes.”
Lunch will be provided each day for the students from a local restaurant.
“I’m hoping students learn it’s not just a job, it’s a way of life. This is an opportunity to hear it from the officers about their passion for their job and what they do,” Stewart said.
On the last day students will be given a certificate of completion. Any time after the workshop is over, Stewart said students would then be cleared to ride along with an officer at any point to view their job from a first hand perspective.
“It’s not an easy job … but I want them to see they can do this. You can too do this with good life decisions, with hard work and dedication. There are all kinds of different (officer) positions in other bigger cities too,” Stewart said of what he hopes the young people walk away with.