For the past 12 years, the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office has been offering a program to youth in the county that gives them a glimpse into the duties of local law enforcement.
The week of June 15-19, rising fifth-, sixth- and seventh-grade students will have the opportunity to participate in this year’s Junior Law Enforcement Academy.
The academy provides students with a hands-on simulation to all aspects of local law enforcement; from Crime Scene Investigations and S.W.A.T training, to weapons, manhunts, patrol and use of force and defense tactics.
Applications for the program will be passed out to current fourth, fifth and sixth grade students on April 13.
Held at Riverview Middle School from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., the academy is free and is currently planning for about 100 participants.
To be eligible, applicants must submit an essay describing why they want to participate in the academy, and also must be Dawson County residents who are enrolled in Dawson County schools or are home taught.
Since the program’s inception in 1997, it has grown from 20 participants to 100, according to Lt. Tony Wooten of the sheriff’s office.
“This is by far our most popular program. Kids have passed up trips to Disney World and chances to meet celebrities just to come to the junior academy,” said Wooten.
“Our officers enjoy helping with and being a part of the program, because the kids love it so much,” he added.
Wooten noted the importance of the academy, giving the kids the opportunity to see officers as ordinary people and not just someone who wears a badge, carries a gun and puts people in jail.
“It’s important for us (the sheriff’s office) to reach out to the kids of the community and keep them on the right path,” he said.
“Some who have participated in years past have followed up with some type of public service such as firemen or policemen. as well as military pursuits,” he added.
Wooten also said that the Advanced Junior Academy is planned for this year as well, June 8-10, same time and place as the junior academy.
The advanced academy is designed for rising eighth and ninth grade students.
With only 20 openings, this program is a step up from the junior academy.
Everything that is done with the younger kids is harder and more advanced.
Applications for this program will also be distributed April 13 to current seventh and eighth grade students.
For questions or more information about either program, contact Wooten at (706) 344-3535.