Sadie Hardsey is about six years away from graduating high school, but she knows what she plans to be when she grows up.
“I want to be a police officer like my mom,” said the Dawson County Middle School student, one of about 90 cadets who graduated from the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office Junior Law Enforcement Academy on Friday.
The graduation wrapped up three week’s of often intense, specialized training designed to give local youth an insider’s look at the law enforcement profession.
Offering a glimpse at crime scene investigations, SWAT maneuvers, traffic stops and defensive tactics, among others, the academy welcomed more than 200 cadets to this summer’s camps.
Woody Perry, a seventh grader at Dawson County Middle School, has attended the last three years.
“In fourth grade, I thought it would be fun and it was so very much fun,” he said. “It’s so interesting to see how the officers train and what they do.”
Describing himself as a born sleuth, Perry said he loves solving mysteries, which may be the reason he scored so high in the crime scene investigations scenario.
“I was so interested in the crime scene investigation,” he said Friday as he held up a trophy he won for interviewing witnesses and discovering cocaine at the mock crime scene.
The sheriff’s office had so many cadets registered this summer they had to hold the academy for three weeks.
During Friday’s commencement ceremony, Sgt. Johnny Holtzclaw told cadets the academies are “the most fun our officers have all year. We want you to come back next year and then the next year for our advanced academy.”
Holtzclaw also thanked the officers who helped with the camp.
“I want to commend our school resource officers and the other members of the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office that make this program a success,” Holtzclaw said.
Now in its 13th year, the free program, which has grown from about 20 cadets in the first year to almost 250 this summer, is made possible by several donations throughout the year.
“I’d like to thank the local businesses and individuals who donate to us each year so we can continue to offer the academies to every kid who wants to attend free of charge,” Holtzclaw said.