St. Joseph’s Police Department is hosting its annual Junior Police Academy this week.
The academy is geared toward students ages 12 to 14 who have an interest in a career in law enforcement.
Dyllon Biggs, 13, said having a father in law enforcement motivated him to join the academy and get a view of what being an officer is like.
“I decided to be a part of the academy this year so I could spend time with my dad while he’s at work,” Biggs said. “I think he has an interesting career and I wanted to see what police officers do every day.”
Activities from the week included riding in the squad car, going to the gun range, learning how to use CSI equipment and more.
Officer Joe Herrera said it’s important to teach students what police officers do daily so those who are interested can be prepared for that line of work.
“The goal is to get kids to understand this is not what they see on TV,” Herrera said. The goal is to get them to see what we do in real life, and with this academy that is what they get to see. We’re hoping it motivates them to pursue a career in law enforcement.”
Martrehz Houston, 14, has been part of the junior academy for three years and is now one of the team leaders.
“This academy really sets you up if this is the career you want,” he said. “I’ve been a part of this for a few years now and the officers are more than mentors, they’re like family to me. They want to help me learn and I’m getting advice every day.”
The past few years have created a stigma toward police officers in regard to political events and protests. Herrera said one of the biggest objectives of the St. Joseph Police Department is to portray a positive image of law enforcement to the community.
“Our junior academy isn’t geared towards one group,” he said. “We have boys and girls here today of all racial backgrounds. It doesn’t matter what you look like or where you come from, everyone is going to be treated the same.”