By Mary O’KEEFE
Last week the first class to attend the Glendale Police Department’s Teen Academy received their graduation certificates and shared what they had learned from the six-week program.
About 24 teens from the Glendale Unified School District participated in this first outreach program sponsored by the GPD. The idea of a program for teens came from Chief Robert Castro after the completion of a successful program for the community, Citizens Academy.
The purpose of both programs was to enhance communication and understanding between the community and law enforcement.
“We expose [the kids] to the diversity of police work from the lab, jail [department], communications and patrol. It is very similar to what [cadets] go through in our Explorer Program,” Officer Michelle Gonzalez said in an earlier interview with CVW.
On July 27, the students shared what they learned about the various department divisions they studied. Many liked the SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) and Forensic Lab, and others liked the patrol response and DUI (Driving Under the Influence) programs.
Officer Joe Allen explained that during the DUI portion students drove a coned course like they normally would then put on glasses that simulated the driver having consumed alcohol and then were asked to drive the course again. The students were able to see what impaired driving was like.
“Officers come in their uniforms and they perform the best they can but they are still human,” said Crescenta Valley High School senior Brandon Budwig on what he took away from the academy.
Budwig is planning a career in law enforcement.
And that is another advantage of the Teen Academy; not only is the GPD able to teach kids about what the job is like, and even deal with a few myths of law enforcement, it is also a good way to promote the department’s future hiring pool.
The program was made possible by the involvement of GPD officers who took the time to teach, listen and guide the students. Every student who received their certificate started out by thanking the officers for their time.
The officers who led the Teen Academy were Officer Joe Allen, Officer Minas Tsolakyan, Officer Michelle Gonzales.
In addition there were other officers in each division that shared their knowledge with the kids.