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State Police show teens the ropes

July 30, 2000

State Police show teens the ropes



By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer

photos: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer

Trooper CampMaryland State Police want people to know there's more to law enforcement than arresting criminals.

To foster an interest in the skills needed to solve crimes and maintain law and order, state police held their annual Trooper Camp for teenagers 12 to 16 years old last week.

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The two-day camp held at the Hagerstown barracks was organized by troopers J.B. Robinson and R.A. Plante.

This year's camp was attended by 21 teenagers from the Tri-State area who spent their time receiving classroom instruction, examining the tools of the trade, such as a patrol car, and hearing from people representing different areas of law enforcement, such as the bomb squad and crime lab.

"It gives kids a taste of what law enforcement is about. It shows a broad range of choices - you don't have to be a cop," said Robinson.

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Trooper CampNow in its third year, the Trooper Camp is sponsored by the Western Maryland Troopers Association. The cost is $25 per student, which pays for two days of training, meals and a souvenir T-shirt.

One of the highlights of the first day of camp was a presentation by Maryland State Fire Marshal Jim Woods.

Standing before a table full of inert explosive devices, Woods explained the dangers associated with handling homemade and professionally constructed bombs.

Woods impressed the teenagers by demonstrating how a portable X-ray machine is used to examine the contents of a box. He suited up one person in an 80-pound bomb squad suit with bullet-proof type lining.

"It's pretty interesting," said Jeremy Gross, 12, of Woods' demonstration.

Scott Mumma's favorite part was when he got a chance to try on the bomb squad suit, he said.

"It was heavy. I liked it," said Mumma, 13, of Hagerstown.

Mumma said attending the camp last year piqued his interest. After going through the different sessions this year, he decided he would like to have a career in a police tactical unit.

The students were taken through a series of military formations and given a tour of the barracks.

A Maryland Department of Natural Resources officer gave a speech about gun safety and brought along various rifles, shotguns and handguns.

At the crime lab, a forensic scientist described his role in a police investigation and demonstrated how substances are tested to see if they contain narcotics.

Learning about the duties of a forensic scientist was fascinating, said Jennifer Rowland, 13, of Clear Spring.

"I've always liked chemistry," she said.

Students were allowed to enter a patrol car and work its sirens and lights. They learned how to light a flare and how police use traffic stop sticks - long flat strips of board embedded with spikes - to stop fleeing motorists.

On the second day of training the police engaged in role-playing and teenagers were given different scenarios in which they tried to determine proper police procedure.

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