By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Lathrop first responders academy graduation
LPD academy

Tonight at Lathrop High School nearly two dozen young people will formally graduate the Lathrop Junior Police and Fire Academy.

It’ll be the second time this summer that a class has graduated the two-week session that for the first time this year formally brings Lathrop Police Services and the Lathrop Manteca Fire District together in presenting the annual program to help bridge the gap between law enforcement and emergency services and the youth in the community.

And they’ll have more than just a t-shirt and a certificate to take with them.

According to Senior Administrative Assistant Lee Ann Sterni, who helped Lathrop Police Chief James Hood organize the annual undertaking, the participants will also walk away CPR certified and with a working knowledge of how their public services work and who is providing them to the community.

The relationship with the youth, Hood said, is an invaluable piece of the relationship that his agency has built with the local community and something that he said he’s glad that the Lathrop Manteca Fire District is a part of with them.

“They’ve always played a part in making this possible, but this year we’ve changed the name to reflect that,” Hood said. “This is a great program that a lot of our own children have had the chance to be a part of, and it’s great when we’re out there in the community and we recognize the kids that came and participated – they already know who we are and what we do, and that bond is an important thing to have.”

In addition to the fun elements like crime scene investigation and boating safety, participants also go through physical training and learn how to march in platoons – much the same way cadets do at the Sheriff’s Academy.

This year the program brought back an activity that gives kids a real-life look at how police officers and firefighters clear buildings in the event of an emergency, and they actually got the chance to use the fire district’s training facility and practice going room-to-room in a simulated smokey environment to get a first-hand experience.

The police and fire departments also partnered up when it came to the boating safety activity, where the Sheriff’s river patrol boat and the fire district’s rescue boat were the centerpiece to educate the participants in the importance of wearing life jackets and using California’s waterways responsibly.

“We’ve had a few participants go on from this to be cadets at the Sheriff’s Office, which is a great thing,” Hood said. “It’s something that the kids enjoy and we enjoy putting on.”

The graduation ceremony for the second class of the Lathrop Junior Police and Fire Academy will receive their certificates tonight at 6 p.m. inside of the cafeteria at Lathrop High School, located at 647 Spartan Way. For more information about Lathrop Police Services and the programs that they offer, visit the Lathrop Police Services tab on the City of Lathrop’s website at

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.