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Lathrop Police offering junior academy for youth

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POSTED June 27, 2012 1:08 a.m.

LATHROP – Chris Pehl knows the importance of working with Lathrop’s youth

The Lathrop Police Services lieutenant has seen firsthand how outreach efforts to young people in the community through programs like the Junior Police Academy has not only bridged the gap but also improved the relationship between the two.

Graduates from several years ago come back to assist whenever possible, he said, and serve as role models for the younger students.

It’s a model of what the contracted department is aiming for.

“I think that it’s really an ice breaker, and it gives the younger kids a positive first experience with the officers,” Pehl said. “We’re hoping that throughout their adolescence they remember that first contact – it’s a lot more beneficial than having a negative experience.

“It’s something that helps both of us.”

Deputy Matt Lindemann, who serves as the Community Resource Officer, will once again be one of the instructors for the course, and Deputy Valerie Cardoza –who works directly with students as the School Resource Officer – will take part as well.

The course will be broken up into individual subjects that outline the basics of law enforcement, and special presentations from the local SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team as well as a K9 unit will also be part of the syllabus.

The sessions have been offered for more than a decade to help educate the youth of Lathrop not only on the extensive duties of the police, but to help make direct contact with the young students and maximize the department’s approach to protecting the community.

“It really does bridge the gap and it helps the students to see what it is that we do,” Pehl said. “And it’s not only for the kids. It’s a good conduit for the parents as well – it brings everybody together and helps create emissaries as we move forward.

“It helps with our whole community oriented policing model.”

The next academy begins on July 16 and runs through July 27. The cost is $20 and includes all field trips, materials and a T-shirt.

Students will be visiting the San Joaquin County Sherriff’s Department headquarters in French Camp as well as other locations around the community to see how the department operates.

Those interested need to file an application – which requires an essay which outlines why they should be included in the academy – that can be picked up at the Lathrop Police Services office at 15597 7th Street during normal business hours.

For additional information call 858-5551.

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