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City's Junior Police Academy graduates 23

November 22, 1998|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

Robin Janocha told her 23 fellow Junior Police Academy graduates Saturday that she took the 10-week course because she has wanted a career in law enforcement since she was a little girl.

Janocha, 15, an eighth-grader at Grace Academy, was chosen to speak to the Junior Police Academy's first graduating class at ceremonies at the Four Points Hotel. "My hope is that everyone who participated in this class will benefit from the experience," Janocha said.

The course, sponsored by the Hagerstown Area Police Athletic League, ran for four hours every Saturday for 10 weeks. It involved classroom study and hands-on police work with students working side-by-side with officers, said Patrolman Brett McCoy, a PAL organizer.

The students learned how to write police reports and do fingerprinting. They went on mock police patrols, made mock traffic stops, and were handed fake guns and told to enter a building and "arrest" someone who was portraying a suspect.

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The course was given at Hagerstown police headquarters and at the old fairgrounds, McCoy said.

"The idea is to show the students that police officers are not just robots like they see in the movies," he said.

"We want them to know that we are approachable, that we can be their friends. Most kids get the impression from Hollywood that everything we do is glamorous," he said.

PAL officials work closely with the local Boys and Girls Club. Many of the students who graduated Saturday are club members. A second class will start up this spring, McCoy said.

Janocha said she jumped at the chance to take the course when she found out about it.

Her mother, Elizabeth Janocha, said her daughter was asked to give the graduation speech because she excelled in all areas of the course and was eager to learn.

Robin Janocha's younger sister, Kristy, 13, a seventh-grader at Grace Academy, said she took the course because she wanted to learn about CPR "in case one of my friends choked."

She has no desire to become a cop, she said. "I might get killed or I might have to kill somebody else, and I wouldn't want to do that," she said. She wants to become a schoolteacher.

Daniel Sweet, 15, a North Hagerstown High School freshman, learned some things about himself in the course. "I learned that I can stick to things. I also learned how to make new friends," he said.

Ruth Cassidy, 12, a Western Heights Middle School student, said she learned about gun safety and how police officers make traffic stops. She said she's not sure whether she wants to work in law enforcement.

Other speakers Saturday included Hagerstown Police Chief Dale Jones and Officer Guy McCartney, another PAL organizer.

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