By Chris Bavender
The ninth annual Zionsville Police Dept. Teen Academy, in partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Zionsville and Zionsville Parks Dept., is accepting applications for its summer program scheduled for 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 5 to 9. The purpose of the academy is to provide teens with a better understanding of police officers and help strengthen the relationship between the department and the community.
“It is just an amazing opportunity for not only the young people to see what we do, but we get so much out of it as well,” ZPD Chief Robert Knox said. “It is just an awesome opportunity to network and get to know these young folks and spend time with them. That is the highlight of the job.”
The academy was started in June 2009 by Knox when he was a captain, along with Sgt. Sam Dennemann. Class sizes have ranged from eight to 10 students to more than 40 cadets since its inception. The average age of teen participants is from 12 to 16.
“We wanted to reach out to the young people of the community and let them know we are not bad people and that we really do care,” Knox said. “When we first started we went to Fishers and Carmel and other agencies to see how they did theirs and then changed it to fit our own goals and objectives. Sgt. Dennemann has been there every year and is the cornerstone of the program.”
Topics covered during the five-day academy include traffic stops, internet usage and identity theft, character development, use of K-9s, defensive tactics, simulated firearms training, special response team, physical training, building searches, team building exercises and a jail tour. At the end of each day, students and officers participate in a social activity.
“We have a dinner and an award ceremony the last day, and you can just see how proud they are that they have accomplished something,” Knox said.
Cadets chosen for this year’s Teen Academy must report with a parent or guardian to the Boys & Girls Club of Zionsville, 1575 Mulberry St, at 7:30 a.m. June 5. Registration will be in the back gym.
HOW TO SIGN UP
For more information or to enroll in the Teen Academy, call 317-873-5967 or email Capt. Jeff Morris at Jmorris@zionsville-in.gov. To apply, visit zionsville-in.gov/220/Teen-Academy. Completed application packets can be dropped off at ZPD, faxed to 317-873-8026 or emailed to Morris.