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Students get glimpse of police life
2 Jr Law Academy pic1
Caitlyn Montanaro takes a turn checking out the inside of the Airlife Georgia helicopter during last weeks demonstration at Junior Law Enforcement Academy. - photo by Amy French Dawson County News

Police dog Kimbo burst out of the back seat of Cpl. Jessica Kraft's vehicle last week ready to assist Kraft as she demonstrated the canine's finely-tuned search and rescue skills.

The watching students were enthralled, trying to decide how the dog got out of the car and how it knew to come immediately to her rescue.

The demonstration by the North Georgia K-9 Task Force, a part of the Dawson County Sheriff's Office, was one of many events during last week's Junior Law Enforcement Academy at Dawson County Middle School.

"Once he hears the door click, he knows it's game on," said Sgt. Shane Henson.

Kraft and fellow member of the task force, Cpl. Zach Smith, explained to the rising fifth through ninth graders how they spend 12 hours a week in training with their animals.

Smith completed a 40 hour decoy class just so he could be attacked in the bite suit.

One student asked how the dog knows it's time to attack.

"Guns, fists, fight stance, he sees aggression," Kraft said.

Students were able to check out the bite suit first hand and begged for the chance to go one-on-one with the dogs.

The week-long camp ran from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. each day and featured demonstrations as well as hands-on activities like shooting paint ball guns at targets.

Upcoming sixth grader Skyler Murphy enjoyed that the most.

"It's just fun when you try and hit the pins and the backboard and stuff," she said. "It was my first time trying to do paint ball so I learned how to do paint ball stuff and I learned how to be a cop."

The goal of the camp is just that-to let kids see what life is like as a police officer.

The kids learned that officers take on all kinds of roles from driving police cars to training animals to flying helicopters.

Cpl. Paul Wofford of the Georgia State Patrol aviation division flew in from Kennesaw to let students see the inside of the helicopter and answer questions.

Wofford explained the uses of infra-red technology in the search for criminals, as well as missing persons.

Nurse Michael Applegate, pilot Mark Maglothin and master flight paramedic Russell Brown of Airlife Georgia also flew in to answer questions and let kids climb aboard the chopper.

They took a variety of questions from curious students including everything from what kind of fuel the helicopter uses to what was the age of the youngest patient the team had ever transported.

By the end of the week, students were asked to use the knowledge they'd gained to do things like make felony traffic stops, interview suspects and even handle a shop lifter.

The group graduated on Friday and students received awards for best in driving, top gun, CSI and most likely to get sued.

The event is put on annually by the Dawson County Sheriff's Office.