MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – The Junior Police Academy is a new program at the Myrtle Beach Police Department that aims to teach teenagers about law enforcement and lure them away from gangs and crime.
“The curriculum was designed not just to grasp their attention but give them a general knowledge of what we do,” said instructor, Pfc. Christopher Tyndall.
Around 20 middle schoolers participated in the inaugural session and had to write an essay to get in.
“I really wanted to understand certain things that police did,” said middle-schooler, Johnise Graham. “It has been awesome and we’ve learned a lot that could actually help people in the future if someone was in danger.”
On Thursday, the kids met Myrtle Beach Police K9, Roscoe, rode in a SWAT car, practiced dusting for fingerprints and listened to a presentation on gangs.
“Sometimes, unfortunately, the only role models they have are gang members,” said Tyndall. “[This is] something to help them maybe steer away from that and maybe their curiosity won’t get the best of them and they’ll know to stay away from it than be lured towards it.”
Some of the kids wanted to join the Junior Police Academy for fun, but others joined because of past experiences.
“Somebody stole our car,” said Jasmine Aguirre. “And sold everything in our car and fired rounds in our car. I just want to be able to protect myself and learn stuff like the [K9] dogs. That was cool.”
Lt. Joey Crosby said the program is a tool the department can use to show teens what it takes to be a police officer and to build relationships with each other.
“And ultimately hoping that some of them will want to end up being police officers and they’ll come back and help give back to their community,” added Crosby.
When asked if they wanted to be police officers, many of the kids said yes.
“The fact that you would be working and also protecting people is really cool,” said Aguirre.
On Friday, August 4 the kids will go back-to-school shopping with officers in the morning and have a graduation ceremony in the afternoon.
Officers hope to hold many more sessions of the Junior Police Academy.