Photo by Amber Jenkins
The Granite City Police Department.
A few lucky pre-teens will be giddy with anticipation next week for the first Granite City Police Department’s Youth Academy. Like men and women joining the real police academy, they will get an insider’s look at what it takes to be a police officer.
The grant-funded academy training camp will feature a variety of events the week of June 8. Students who will participate were chosen based on recommendations from teachers and school administrators. The camp will host 16 children ages 9 to 12 and will show them simulations of emergency response situations, help them engage in physical fitness training and teach firearm safety.
Granite City Police Officer Eric Stacy is the school resource officer at Grigsby Intermediate School. He is one of the police officers who will be hosting the academy.
“We want to focus on the positive in the community,” Stacy said. “This is a leadership opportunity. We chose children who will be our future leaders and wanted to reward them for being good kids.”
Unfortunately, Stacy said, most children’s contact with the police is negative because bad behavior warrants more attention from the resource officers. The police department wanted to reward children for good behavior by producing a fun week with exciting activities.
The kids will start out each morning of the camp at Tank’s Training Facility for physical fitness training. Chris “Tank” Janek, owner of the facility, will teach training techniques that will help them to maintain good physical shape, which is important for a police officer’s line of work.
Firearm safety and training will be held at the shooting range. Stacy said children need to know the dangers regarding firearms as well as safe handling techniques.
“When something is a mystery, it is all the more inviting,” Stacy said. “We know that being curious regarding firearms can wind up getting someone hurt, and with the new conceal-and-carry law children need to be educated on how to properly handle a weapon if the need should arise.”
The Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System, or ILEAS, will be hosting a SWAT team demonstration as well. The Region 8 ILEAS team will be showing the different weapons and new technologies used by SWAT, such as a robot they use to aid them in dangerous situations.
On Thursday the Granite City Fire Department will join police for an emergency demonstration. This simulation will feature the ARCH Air Medical Services helicopter and fire trucks to give the kids a real look inside first responders’ jobs and handling emergencies.
Stacy, a Granite City police officer for 12 years, has just completed his second year at Grigsby as the school’s resource officer. He said the police department wanted those closest to the children to make recommendations for the academy.
Don Stratton, principal at Grigsby Intermediate School, said he had a fantastic year with his students and made recommendations based on need.
“I chose students I knew would want to attend and who could benefit from something like this,” Stratton said.
The youth academy week will also show students a K-9 demonstration, teaching the children how police canines play an important role in law enforcement. Students who wish to participate can also go fishing with Capt. Craig Knight, a representative of the Cops for Kids Shielded Waters Program. This police program partners with Steel City Bassmasters, a tournament fishing club, to help at-risk youth in a positive manner.
Weber Chevrolet of Granite City will provide transportation and free T-shirts for the participants, which will feature a Youth Academy logo. Lt. Jenna DeYong and Granite City High School Resource Officer John Redstone will join Stacy in hosting the youth academy week.