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Police academy just for kids

February 15, 1999|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

Robert Sellers of Hagerstown is only 13, but he knows what he wants to be when he grows up - a police officer.

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Last fall, he got to observe and learn from real-life police during an 11-week course sponsored by The Hagerstown Area Police Athletic League.

Sellers was one of 21 students to graduate from the Hagerstown City Police Department's Junior Police Academy.

"It was a really good activity," he said. "We learned CPR and a lot about the police."

The first class of the Hagerstown Area PAL's Junior Police Academy ran from September to November 1998.

This year's classes will run from March 20 to June 5, according to City Police Officer Brett McKoy of PAL.

"It teaches them teamwork and helps improve their self-esteem," said McKoy.

Teens in seventh and eighth grades interested in taking part in the free classes can contact him at 301-739-8577 ext. 471. The sign-up deadline is March 5.

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Sellers said being part of the class was a dream come true since he has always been fascinated by crime and law enforcement.

His cousin, Brandon Higgins, 13, took the course with him, he said.

Participants in the upcoming Junior Police Academy will receive a tour of the police department and learn about the history of law enforcement.

Through their training, they will meet different officers, discuss the classification of crimes and the root causes of juvenile offenses.

The dangers involved with being an officer will be highlighted, along with talks on coping with stress.

In addition, the students will learn about patrol operations and arrest procedures, traffic laws and stops. A section will be devoted to teens, drug use and drug enforcement.

There will be a class providing an introduction to Department of Natural Resources Police and K-9 patrol, and participants will also learn first-aid.

A class taught by John M. Hersh, assistant fire marshal, will be held at the Children's Village safety center.

Once students complete training in the Junior Police Academy, they can continue their police education by becoming members of the Junior Officers Club.

These cadets will meet twice a month to plan and perform community service projects as well as go on field trips. Mock trials and other police functions will also be planned.

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