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CSI: Dawsonville
Young cadets learn from sheriffs office
3 Jr Law Academy pic1
Ally Goodie dusts for fingerprints at a mock crime scene Tuesday morning during the Dawson County Sheriffs Junior Law Enforcement Academy. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson Community News

Ally Goodie watches a lot of crime-fighting shows on television.

"I like CSI, NCIS, Bones, lots of cop shows," she said Tuesday morning as she dusted for fingerprints on a "stolen" golf cart that was "recovered" near the football field at Dawson County Middle School.

Goodie is among dozens of fifth-graders taking part this week in the Dawson County Sheriff's Junior Law Enforcement Academy at the school.

Her family rescheduled their summer vacation so she could take the free course, which is designed to give students a simplified look at practical law enforcement experiences.

In Tuesday morning's scenario, the junior detectives arrived on scene to find the school's quarterback dead beneath the bleachers, apparently from a fight with another player after a big game the night before.

To solve the crime, Goodie said cadets used the instruction they learned about processing a crime scene and collecting evidence to determine what happened overnight.

"We are dusting for fingerprints to see who stole the car and why they stole the car," Goodie said. "There was a fingerprint on the light switch. Then we lifted the seat, and there was a gun under there, but there were no prints on it."

A mixture of classroom time and hands-on police training, academy topics range from crime scene investigations and manhunts, to use of force, patrol stops and weapons.

Ten-year-old Rylie Erickson has been waiting years to attend the academy after hearing her older brothers talk about how much fun they had there.

"I'm really interested in learning about the guns," she said. "The self-defense tactics was also a lot of fun."

For Michaella Fricton, the opportunity to learn self-defense was her selling point when school resource officers at the elementary schools talked to students about the free academy.

"I wanted to be prepared for anything. If you were in a situation, you need to know what to do," she said. "I've always wanted to learn how to protect myself, so I talked to my mom about the academy and she agreed that it was a good idea."

Now in its 17th year, the academy has grown from about 25 cadets to more than 100 participating in three different camps over the summer. Deputies from each division at the sheriff's office join school resource officers to teach the cadets.

"We've got a good group. This is our up-and-coming fifth-grade class. These kids are special because next year the school resource officers will be teaching drug resistance at school," said Capt. Tony Wooten. "This is our opportunity to start building relationships to help them learn to make wise decisions for the rest of their lives."