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Ripon youth learn about law enforcement
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Ripon Junior Police Academy cadet Andrew Durrer, 10, takes the microphone as he heads off on a ride-along with Officer Matt Ford during the week long training session. - photo by GLENN KAHL
Ripon Junior Police Academy brought elementary school students into the police department for a close-up view of what it takes to be a police officer.

Students participated in hands-on activities such as shooting radar guns from the sidewalk at moving traffic to learning the challenges and the dangers of being a police officer.

The student cadets even got a look at the police gun range on Thursday and participated in ride-alongs around the community with police officers in their patrol units.

Dejia Vasquez, 10, and her brother Justice, 13, were outside the police department on Wednesday ready and excited to talk about their experiences.  “I wanted to be in the police academy to learn more about life in the police department – the life – and about canines and the SWAT team,” she said.

She said she might want to become a police officer when she gets older – a job where she feels she will be able to help people.  They are both students at Weston Elementary School.  Dejia is going into the fifth grade and Justice into the seventh grade.

Brother Justice was in the junior academy in 2007, saying he was taking the course again because he wanted to learn how officers do things – also hoping to be on the SWAT team some day.  He also said he learned how laws are different in other countries from his training.

Hunter Branco, 10, a student at Parkview Elementary School, said he is taking the course because his step-father is applying for the CHP Academy.

“I wanted to learn about the police – to see what my step-dad has to go through and check out the different guns.  I might become a police officer someday or be a California Highway Patrolman,” he said.

Hunter took the classes along with three of his friends.  He said he has learned what police officers and sheriff’s deputies do on the job.  He is going into the sixth grade in the fall at Parkview Elementary School.