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Police Academy an eye-opener for teens
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The Target “E” Junior Police Academy kicked off Tuesday for nearly 20 local junior high students at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Manteca / Lathrop. The inaugural program was put together from scratch by Manteca Police Department School Resource Officer Jason Hensley (right) and Veritas School teacher Wendy Ryan (not pictured). - photo by VINCE REMBULAT
The first day of the Target “E” Junior Police Academy may have been an eye-opener for some 18 local junior high school students.

They received the same treatment Tuesday as that of a regular police academy, according to April Pliler, who is the Manteca Police Department’s School Resource Officer at Manteca High.

The cadets were hit with direct orders and instructions made loud and clear from their commanding officer.

“It was a taste of what we went through (in the police academy),” she said. “They understood that and did a good job responding.”

Not bad for the first day.

In order to qualify for the three-week program held at the Boys &Girls Clubs of Manteca /Lathrop, they had to be endorsed by their teacher or school administrator.  A generous portion of the funding was made possible by Police Chief Dave Bricker’s foundation, said Jason Hensley, a Manteca Unified SRO who often addresses the gang-related issues to local elementary school students.

The Junior Police Academy is an extension of another summer police program, the Junior Crime Scene Investigation Academy, but only with older students and a longer commitment.

Hensley along with Wendy Ryan, a Language Arts teacher at Veritas School, wrote and put together the program from scratch.
“We were looking for a program to bridge the gap between the Jr. CSI Academy and the Explorers,” he explained.

Dressed uniformly in tan pants, all-black footwear and blue shirts, the cadets were divided into three squads, with their day consisting of physical training, cadence marching and daily inspections.

They’ll also engage in various exercises including the police’s crash-course demonstration on this day of a felony car stop.
“Every situation is different,” Hensley said. “Things change – you will have to adapt.”

In this scenario, for instance, Pliler was the officer in charge. She not only had to give clear and direct orders – Explorer Mahlynn Liotard and Officer Randy Chiek were part of her team – but had to make sure her fellow arresting officers were kept out of harm’s way.

Officer Victor Vincent played the suspect driving the pickup.

Chiek also deplored his German shepherd, Blade, who is part of the police K-9 Unit, after the suspect was apprehended.
“We never believe that’s the last suspect in the car,” he said. “And the safest way for us to make sure is by using the K-9.”

In addition, Ryan provided cadets with some life’s lesson instructions, taking a page from Play It Forward.

“They were asked to do three random acts of kindness,” she said.