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The idea is simple…to truly inspire good character you have to put kids in the room with it. This has been the central philosophy of the Junior Police Academy for 20 years – proactively bringing young people and law enforcement professionals together.
The new course, “American Police Officer: A Course in Character,” explores the meaning and consequences of good character as seen through the eyes of law enforcement and those who work in the criminal justice system. Through this course, students will learn both the skills and the virtues needed to become informed and productive citizens.
Nearly 600 police departments nationwide have requested this new course from JPA’s national headquarters in Austin, Texas. In the fall of 2012, only a handful of cities began serving as pilot programs for “American Police Officer,” including: Austin (TX), Oblong (IL), and Sheboygan (WI). Here in Sheboygan, the program was offered to 6th graders at Horace Mann Middle School.
Students were exposed to lessons taught by School Resource Officer Eric Edson as well as guest speakers who exemplify one of seven key character traits…a “Most Wanted List” of sorts that includes:
Students then employed “police investigative tactics” to seek out people in their community who they believe demonstrate these traits as well. Students recognized these exemplary individuals by asking them to sign a “Good Character Challenge Form.” Students who submitted completed forms and successfully fulfilled the course requirements received a commemorative “Challenge Pin,” which recognizes the student for demonstrating what is perhaps the ultimate act of good character – Gratitude.