Deadline Near for High School Police Academy
Officer Michael Czarzasty says the department wants to be known for more than just 'locking up bad guys and stopping cars.'
Springboarding off the success of last year's police academy for middle school students, Cinnaminson Police are offering a similar program for high schoolers this spring.
Police Director Mickey King said the program is part of the department's continual focus on community policing, and also an effort to forge better relationships between the township's youth and law enforcement.
Officer Michael Czarzasty, who led the middle school academy last year and runs the department's other community policing programs, said these programs aren't there just for the feel-good aspect.
"Police are known for locking up bad guys and stopping cars," he said. "Well, we want people to come up to us and talk to us. If we have more ties to the community, its obviously going to help us out. People will be more forward with us if we have a good relationship with them already."
King added: "And this gives (the students) a chance to see if this is a career they might want to pursue."
He said the high school academy will be a little more rigorous and detail-oriented than the middle school academy held last year, with lessons including:
- Law Enforcement Meet and Greet — Cadets meet officers from the FBI, DEA, Secret Service, New Jersey State Police, Philadelphia Police, Burlington County Sheriff's Department and a forensic scientist.
- Courtroom Testimony — Real attorneys come in and see if the cadets have what it takes to testify.
- Defensive Tactics — Police show cadets the basics of law enforcement self-defense.
- Firearms Safety Training — State-certified range instructors teach firearms safety, after which each cadet will individually have an opportunity to fire a real gun (under the supervision of instructors).
- Crime Scenarios — Toward the end of the academy, cadets will take part in scenarios in which they play the officers and the officers are the criminals to test what they have learned.
- Physical Training — The cadets will go through various physical activities (running, push-ups, sit-ups), plus team-building activities.
Reflecting on last year's academy, Czarzasty said, "It was fun to see these kids develop over the course of a few weeks. Their confidence was boosted, they were a little more outgoing … They actually see what we actually do. It's kind of eye-opening to them."
King said just about every officer was involved in the program in some way last year, with many of them donating their time to participate.
"We couldn't do it without the officers donating their time," he said.
The academy is open to Cinnaminson residents only. High school seniors and juniors will get preference.
Those interested in enrolling should email Czarzasty at firstname.lastname@example.org. In the email, include your name, address, telephone number and the name(s) of a parent or guardian. The department will then drop off an application at your residence.
There is a $100 enrollment fee, which covers the cost of a shirt and hat for each cadet, and the supplies needed for the range and graduation. The deadline is March 25. There are approximately 25 spots in the academy.
The 10-day academy will run throughout the month of May.
For more information, contact Czarzasty at email@example.com or call 856-829-6667, ext. 2053.
A separate middle school academy will be held in July.