There’s more to police work than just answering calls and investigating crimes.
And a group of young people in Lathrop are about to find out all about it.
Next week Lathrop Police Services will be hosting their annual Junior Police and Fire Academy – this year jointly operated with the Lathrop Manteca Fire District – to give kids a chance to learn firsthand what goes into emergency services and how it differs from the societal perceptions they may have of the job.
It’ll be the second session so far this summer – the first wrapping up at the end of June – are there are currently still 14 places left for kids that want to participate during the two-week long course that runs from July 11 through July 22.
In the eyes of Lathrop Police Chief James Hood, getting the opportunity to work with the youth before they’ve had any negative contact not only builds a new relationship and changes perspectives, but also opens the door to young people that may want to one day be a police officer or firefighter and let them know what they need to do in the coming years to make sure that they’re eligible.
“Personally I think just having the kids form a relationship with the officers and the firefighters is what this is all about,” Hood said. “They get to know us and learn that they don’t be afraid of us and they can come up to us if they have a problem or if they see us out in the street.
“It shows them the different things that we do during our shifts and teaches them some of the techniques that we employ, and they really seem to enjoy that.”
And Hood knows from experience how beneficial the program can be.
While he’s not a Lathrop resident, several years ago he had his young daughter participate so that she could get a glimpse of what her father does for a living, and he was shocked when she picked up the techniques that were taught in the class and started asking questions relevant to what he does for a living – something that she didn’t have a whole lot of interest in before that.
That sort of youthful interest is exactly what Hood, who was a lieutenant at the time that his daughter participated, wants to continue as chief.
“Kids need to realize that the choices that they make today can affect their lives down the line, and we want to make sure that these kids make the right choices over the next 10 or 12 years so that hopefully one of them comes back to us either as an officer or a firefighter and wants to work in this community,” Hood said. “This is absolutely a part of the community oriented policing model we employ, and getting kids involved and making them able to understand what we do so that they can take it home to their parents or their friends is what we’re shooting for.
“This isn’t just a place where kids come and get a certificate – it’s about building a better relationship with the community.”
Students will learn about fingerprinting, first aid and CPR, basic criminal and traffic law and drug and gang awareness. In addition to conducting mock traffic stops students will also learn about boating safety and the inner workings of the Lathrop Manteca Fire District as well as the San Joaquin County Jail and the San Joaquin County Sherriff’s Office Indoor Shooting Range Simulator.
An application to participate is available at the City of Lathrop’s website at www.ci.lathrop.ca.us. Prospective participants must have at least a “C” average and a copy of their last report card must be attached to the application at the time of submission. The $20 fee covers the cost of the classes, the printing of a certificate of completion and a t-shirt that’s provided to every student. Students from grade 5-8 are eligible to apply, and it’s a requirement that the student have no negative contact with Lathrop Police Services to be accepted.
The classes for the next session, which runs from July 11th through the 22bd, will be from 8 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday at Lathrop High School.
For more information contact Lathrop Police Services at 209.858.5551.