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Junior high students learn about police work
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Cadet police Lt. Narjit Cheema leads the suspect of an armed robbery to a waiting police car. Taking part in the felony car stop are from left, Rosie Rigs, Noelle Furey and Chris Marlow. The suspect was John Cardoza of the Boys and Girls Club. - photo by GLENN KAHL
The din of a junior police academy classroom session was shattered with a jarring door pounding followed by a deafening shout, “This is the Manteca Police SWAT  Team – we have a search warrant,” then a brief silence and an earth-shaking boom.

It was shocking reality for the 17 junior high-aged students in their second week of training.

Through the classroom door came 6-foot-6 SWAT Officer Marnix Lub and Officer Victor Vincent completely decked out in tactical SWAT gear carrying their automatic weapons.  The officers were there to familiarize the cadets with police procedures in the three-week-long academy.

They were then allowed to inspect and to wear some of the specialized equipment.    

Officer Jason Hensley said the students “have actually been blown away” by some of the things they have gotten to do in their classes.  He said they are given as much of a hands-on series of experiences as possible without jeopardizing their safety.

He said they are given a taste of what the high school police Explorers and actual officers go through in their training.

The boys and girls of the academy had a full schedule Thursday that included not only the SWAT Team but also a visit by equestrian officer Joe DeAngelis – longtime school resource officer at East Union High School. Of course, he brought his horse along with him.

The morning also saw the cadets involved in a high risk felony hot stop where they ordered the driver out of his car following an armed robbery.  The cadets crouched behind the safety of the doors of two patrol units at the scene.

The young officers then advanced on the rear of the late model Honda searching for a female suspect believed to have been involved in the crime.  They located the woman hiding in the open luggage area in the rear of the vehicle.  They ordered her out at gunpoint placing her in a kneeling position on the ground before she was handcuffed.

Next Tuesday Manteca Police motorcycle officers will put on a demonstration negotiating a cone course in the parking lot to the west of the Boys and Girls Club.  Graduation is planned with the students dressed in their cadet uniforms ready for their final inspection.

The junior academy is funded by Chief Dave Bricker’s Foundation.