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Junior Police Academy changes kids’ attitudes

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Junior Police Academy changes kids’ attitudes

Noelle Furey was one of the handful of speakers at the Junior Police Academy farewell event.

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

POSTED July 17, 2009 1:49 a.m.
Cristina Torres has noticed positive changes in her son, Alejandro.

Since his involvement in the Manteca Police Department’s Target “E” Junior Academy – the “E” stands for Enforcement, Education and Environment – the younger Torres has been “more respectful and more organized,” according to the mother.

“He has to remind me that the ironed crease in his clothes has to be just right,” she said on Thursday.

Torres was among the 18 cadets serving as the first-ever graduating class of the Junior Police Academy. The program started three weeks ago at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Manteca / Lathrop, mimicking that of an actual police academy.

Jason Hensley, a Manteca Unified School Resource Officer in charge addressing gang-related issues at the local elementary sites, along with fellow officers Alan Shupperd, April Pliler, Eva Steele, Victor Vincent, and Explorer Mahlynn Liotard, to name a few, were among those who helped train and develop the cadets.

The program was made possible by Chief David Bricker’s MPD Foundation. The Junior Police Academy was among the programs that he wanted to start up since taking the helm.

“I thought we could change our environment one child at a time,” said Bricker, who had the honor of presenting Rosie Rios with the Chief’s Award.

Rios, who also received the Honor Guard Award that she shared the honor with Noelle Furey, Harjeet Cheema, and Chris Marlow — earned the academy’s highest honor for her effort and hard work.

“Before I came here I was negative,” Rios said. “I thought I could do everything by myself.”

Throughout the course of the program, she and her fellow cadets had to go through the rigorous daily inspections, drills, and physical challenges.

“But we never gave up,” she said. “We’re a team. We trained together and got in trouble together. But we always believed in each other.
“We’re not just cadets. We’re friends.”

Rios, in addition, received the exclusive police challenge keepsake coin from Chief Bricker.

Noelle Furey came away with the “AAA” Award for Awareness, Academics, and Application. It was part of the life lesson classes taught by Wendy Ryan, a teacher at Veritas School.

“She was the one who best applied the ‘AAA’ to her daily life,” said Ryan, who, along with Hensley, wrote and put together the Junior Police Academy program from scratch.

Furey, in turn, came away with plenty of respect and self discipline.

“I’ve taken in so much information that now I feel more knowledgeable and confident,” she said.

Phillip Head, meanwhile, had fond memories of taking part in the police scenarios.

“SWAT Day was fun,” he said. “In one scenario I was killed twice.”

Head added that the Junior Police Academy provided him with an experience that will last a long time.

Shupperd, who served as the drill instructor, had no doubt that these cadets would go the distance.

“I was a believer from the first day,” he said. “They were chosen (by a junior high teacher or administrator) for their academics so I knew they were good.

“After the third or fourth day I was making up stuff.”
Other individual awards went to David Cannon, Chris Marlow, Joshua Gonzalez, Austin Brice, Head and Cheema.

“I found out how the police force works,” said Cheema, who received an award for excellence.

Chief Bricker was at the Junior Police Academy on the first day and took notice of the changes in the cadets during their graduation event.

More importantly, he was impressed with the results.

“Next year, we will do it again and we’ll take it a step further,” Chief Bricker said.
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