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Police school is 'really cool'

November 12, 1998

Junior Police AcademyBy DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer




MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - In full uniform and with his hat pulled tight over his brow, Sgt. Glenn Macher walks past the 10-, 11- and 12-year-old students attending the Junior Police Academy.

And he does not like what he sees.

--cont. from news page--

There's a brief, to-the-point discussion about how to stand in class. Then a student in the back catches Macher's attention.

"We're not supposed to be dancing back here. I know you can probably dance up a storm, but not in my class," the Martinsburg City Police officer said.

Tuesday night's session was the second in a six-week course designed to introduce kids to the world of police work and to ward off attitude problems before the youngsters reach high school.

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Macher, who is active in local Little League baseball and helps lead an annual conflict resolution class for fourth-grade students in Martinsburg, runs the class as if it were a police academy.

Students cannot touch their desks until Macher tells them to, classes start on the dot of 6:30 p.m. and you can't keep his pencils.

Every class starts with the students standing behind their desks and yelling, "First Police Junior Academy, sir!"

Macher said he does not believe he is too strict with the youngsters. He said he talked to counselors at local elementary schools about the program, and school officials told him that a highly structured program is beneficial to kids.

"We explained all the horror stories to them last week. There's not going to be any push-ups, or any of the good stuff," Macher said.

Ten-year-old Patrick Hoop of Martinsburg loves it.

Hoop is dreaming of going into the Navy, and he likes the military-style drills he gets from Macher.

"It's really cool," Hoop said.

Police Chief Ted Anderson said the academy was started for several reasons.

First, some kids may have formed impressions about the police based solely on what they see on television, Anderson said.

Or their impressions of police might have been handed down from their parents, whose attitudes about law enforcement might not be positive ones, he said.

"This is going to give them some insight," Anderson said. "It allows us to be a role model for them."

The two-hour classes introduce young people to police work through discussions and hands-on experience, Anderson said. Police show them fingerprinting operations, let them ride in squad cars or let them participate in traffic control.

The academy, which is free, started last week. The estimated 19 students attending this year were selected based on the quality of their answers to questions on an application, police said.

Classes are at 6:30 p.m. each Tuesday at the police department on North Queen Street.

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