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June 13, 2014

Teaching the future of law enforcement

Teen Police Academy concludes today

GREENVILLE — Some two dozen local teenagers now have a little better idea of what it takes to be an officer with the Greenville Police Department.

The current class of the Teen Police Academy wraps up today, with the students tackling a ropes challenge course.

Thursday’s penultimate session was spent with the class members working a mock crime scene. Student Services Officers James Hamilton and Richard Calendar, along with Lt. CJ Crawford kept an eye on the students, with the focus primarily on collecting evidence at the scene, rather than trying to solve the offense.

In this case, the “crime” involved one woman being assaulted and one man being abducted, as a result of a complicated love triangle.

Evidence needed to be gathered both in a residence and from a pickup truck parked in a separate location. Both scenes were set up at the police station downtown.

“Are you sure you have obtained all the evidence from that vehicle?” Hamilton asked one team of investigators, with the knowledge that they had missed an incriminating letter discarded on the floor board.

The students also had to deal with the distraction of their fellow classmates who portrayed onlookers at the location, who occasionally would approach the vehicle and inquire about the situation.

“Do you think I’d let just anybody walk up to my crime scene?” Hamilton asked.

Both the students and officers were obviously enjoying themselves, such as when Crawford arrived with a message from police dispatch, with the descriptions of multiple suspects in the abduction and assault, who happened to look just like the onlookers.

“Does anyone here match those descriptions?” Crawford asked the investigators as the crowd began to disperse. “Does anyone here match those descriptions who is now walking away?”

The day concluded with the guilty suspects in custody and the students presenting their cases to the officers, who pointed out what they did right and where they may have slipped up.

The Teen Police Academy is designed for teenage students who have an interest in law enforcement as a career, or just a desire to learn more about police work in general.

The course offers insight into aspects such as hostage negotiations, patrol procedures, and accident investigation.

The academy was the first activity under this year’s Summer of Safety program, presented by the Greenville Police Department, which continues next Friday, June 20, with the 18th Annual David Dickson Memorial Fishing Friday at Graham Park.

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