Thomasville-- For many children, the only thing they know about police work is what they've seen on T.V. "I've kind of enjoyed watching T.V. about police officers and how they work," said 7th grader Jesse Misenheimer. Twelfth grader Anthony Showell added, "you never really hear much about it. You see the shows on T.V. about crime scenes and stuff but you really wanna know what its really about."
Television as their only source of information can lead to misunderstandings and unnecessary fears. "Whenever they're watching "COPS" they're seeing people banging peoples heads on the hood of the car and stuff like that, and I've already told them today, we don't do things like that," said officer Penny Hembree.
The lessons they learn at the week long academy give the kids the chance to see what it's really like to be a police officer. "Traffic stops, traffic enforcements, arrest techniques. They're gonna get a chance to do that," said Hembree. "We learn about the aspects of what police officers go through as far as training, what they do in the field," explained Showell.
Many of these kids are closely connected to the department, with police officer parents, and it gives them an education too. "It gives them the chance to see kind of what their parents are going through on a daily basis and get a feeling for some of the stress that they may be going through when they come home," said Hembree.
They'll also get a chance to hear from the GBI crime lab, and all of the police departments specialty teams, like SWAT and the dive team.
The experiences they get here may one day even lead to a career for one of them. "I kind of like having the feeling that I can be responsible for the goodness of our town and stuff," said Misenheimer.
Even if they don't go into law enforcement, they'll leave with a much better understanding of what it means to protect and serve.
This is just the second year of the Junior Law Enforcement Academy, but Thomasville police say they plan to continue the program in the future.