CRESTVIEW — Now that she’s been through the Crestview Police Department’s first summer Youth Academy, participant Breanna McIver is keen to learn more.
Youth academy students show how to investigate a crime scene
“I want to do this again,” she said. “I learned a whole bunch of new things like how to investigate, and take fingerprints and do a lot of new stuff.”
She and 24 other 7- to 11-year-old academy mates met at Warriors Hall each morning last week and police officers from different divisions shared information about their respective jobs.
Older kids up to 16 years old met in afternoon sessions. Friday the academy graduated its first classes of nearly 50 students.
Community Policing Officers Wanda Hulion and Sam Kimmons said as the youth academy, the agency’s first, progressed during the week, they continually tweaked it as the need arose.
“We were thinking some of this stuff as we go,” Kimmons said.
For Investigator Seth Williams, teaching Thursday’s crime scene investigations classes was a departure from being a parent volunteer at his own children’s activities.
“I’m used to it as far as being able to communicate with them, but telling them what I do for a living is very different,” Williams said.
After the kids lifted fingerprints from a surface — and fingerprinted themselves — Williams introduced them to a staged crime scene of a burglarized house.
While Conner Tillman and Conner Hester found, photographed and marked evidence the burglars left behind, Haley Melendez interviewed witnesses—Hulion and Kimmons — and Adalyn Bowser took DNA samples from evidence that David Drost then secured in marked, sealable bags.
Academy students in both age groups also learned about Crestview’s K9 and SWAT divisions, and experienced the effects of substance impairment while trying to walk a straight line while wearing goggles that simulate intoxication.
The students took advantage of the opportunity to query officers about details of their work.
“Does the dog live with you,” one boy asked K9 Officer Shane Kriser of his partner, Kody.
“He lives in my house, he gets hair all over the place and sometimes he decides to sleep in my bed,” Kriser replied. “He can be real aggravating when he wants to play.”
LESSONS HIT HOME
Parents said their kids responded well to the camp, coming home to share details and review their notes from each day’s activities.
“They loved it,” Laura Forshaw said of her daughters Emily, 9, and Nora, 7. “They can’t wait to come back.”
Some of the lessons found their way into their home, she said, including the program on alcohol impairment.
“One of them took my shaving cream and said I’m not allowed to use it because it had alcohol in it,” Farshaw said, laughing.
Breanna said now when she sees a police officer, she’s going to think differently because now she has a deeper understanding and appreciation of what officers do.
“I know now, because I was practicing the things a cop would do in real life,” she said. “All the things cops do is really cool, especially when they handcuff bad guys.”