On Friday, July 30, about 20 teens and their parents gathered in a room above the Asheville Police Department to graduate from the department’s Junior Police Academy. The free week-long academy is operated out of the APD’s Crime Prevention Unit and gives teens ages 14-17 first-hand exposure to various elements of criminal investigation such as the APD Patrol Division, the K9 Unit, the Drug Suppression Unit, forensics and gang investigation. The program is one of the APD’s many outreach and education initiatives in the community.
For the teens, some of whom want to pursue careers in law enforcement, the academy was an opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of police work.
“I was really interested in forensics, so that was really cool,” said Breanna Quade. “I liked the criminal investigations too. That gives me a back-up plan.”
APD Officer Allen Dunlap said the experience does a great deal to forge positive relationships between the department and Asheville’s young people. It also gives a more realistic impression of police work than the one usually portrayed on television and in movies.
“We do this so we can build lines of communication,” Dunlap explained, “So that young folks can feel like they can make contact with an officer if they have to.”
Each teen received a framed certificate and T-shirt signifying their completion of the program.
The Asheville Police Department hosts a Junior Police Academy each summer, as well as a 12-week Citizens Police Academy for adults in the spring and the fall. The next adult Citizens Police Academy, for participants 18 years old and up, will start on Sept. 14. Those who wish to participate must apply and be accepted.
For more information, contact Officer Dunlap at 259-5834 or firstname.lastname@example.org.