Photo courtesy of Peoria Police Department

The Peoria Police Department bridges the gap between law enforcement and young residents through its innovative Youth Citizen Police Academy. Scheduled throughout June, this engaging program is tailored for students entering seventh and eighth grades, aiming to foster a deeper understanding and trust between the youth and police officers.

The academy, free thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, is not only an educational course but a foundation for building lasting relationships within the community. Spanning four different weeks, each session lasts four days, providing a comprehensive glimpse into the daily operations of the Peoria Police Department.

Participants will delve into a wide array of topics and hands-on activities, including the use of alcohol/DUI goggles and carts, fingerprinting, crime scene investigations, and dangerous drugs education. Furthermore, the program covers vital subjects such as equipment demonstrations, SWAT and K-9 presentations, firearm safety, and internet/social media safety, alongside team-building exercises. While the program encourages physical and hands-on activities, it emphasizes that children will not operate firearms.

Each week, the academy will be hosted at different high schools within Peoria — Peoria High School, Centennial High School, Sunrise Mountain High School, and Liberty High School. These sessions are designed to accommodate the schedules of busy families, offering both morning and afternoon slots. Notably, the final day of each session transitions to the Peoria Police Department South Station, providing a unique opportunity for students to experience the police environment firsthand.
Eligibility for this transformative program is straightforward: students must be entering the seventh or eighth grade in the fall, reside in Peoria or attend a Peoria city school, and must not have previously attended the academy. Emphasizing the importance of positive behavior, the academy is clear in its goal not to serve as a boot camp for rebellious teens but as a platform for educational engagement and community building.

The program’s no-cost nature illustrates the Peoria Police Department’s commitment to accessibility and community service, ensuring that financial constraints do not hinder participation. Upon completion, all attendees will receive a T-shirt and a certificate.

The application process is simple, requiring only a parental or guardian permission slip and waiver, included in the application packet. For families interested in enrolling their children in the Youth Citizen Police Academy, selections for the preferred school location are made during the application process. Applications must be submitted by Friday, May 10.

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