Taught by School Resource Officers, the Junior Police Academy Program is designed to build partnerships with pre-teen and adolescent students, motivating them to be responsible, involved citizens. This is accomplished by transforming the role of the instructor from “police officer” to “mentor.”
Young people often do not understand what police officers do, or why they do it. Unfortunately, many students view the police officer only in the role of “enforcer.” The Junior Police Academy is designed to take the mystery out of law enforcement and provide a comfortable setting which allows officers and students to interact in an environment free from enforcement. It provides an opportunity for officers and students to see each other as people, rather than as adversaries. While the students that attend the academy may not want to become police officers in the future, the program instills a confidence and sense of achievement that will benefit them for years to come.
The Sheboygan Police Department’s Junior Police Academy was established by School Resource Officer Eric Edson in 2008, and since then has graduated just over 125 middle school students from Farnsworth, Horace Mann and Urban Middle Schools. Typically beginning at the end of January, our twenty-hour, eight week program gives particular attention to inspiring good character and advanced citizenship, fostering problem solving and good decision making skills, in addition to technical instruction about police work.
With the assistance of law enforcement officers and other criminal justice professionals, along with the financial support of the Sheboygan Police Benevolent Association, private citizens and other civic groups, our Junior Police Academy has made a difference in helping adolescents develop a strong sense of community and civic responsibility, preparing them to be “tomorrow’s leaders.”
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Officer Edson discusses the Junior Police Academy and his role as “Mentor”
Officer Edson shares his hopes for the students who graduate from the Junior Police Academy