Most teenagers don’t spend their summer investigating crash scenes, doing homicide investigations or learning about emergency driving — unless they are a participant in the Bloomington Police Department Teen Academy.
The Teen Academy is a program happening July 15 to July 19. The application can be found on the City of Bloomington website and is due by June 14. They have spots for 55 teens.
“The department just saw it as another way to reach out to youth in the community and introduce them to police officers and what we do,” BPD Capt. Ryan Pedigo said.
The camp covers a wide range of police tasks the officers think would be interesting to the participants, BPD Detective Joseph Henry said.
Pedigo said he hopes it sparks interest in the police profession, and maybe in a couple years they will start seeing people who went through the program applying to work for BPD when they are old enough.
The camp is open to 13 to17-year-olds and costs $25 dollars to participate. With the fee, teens receive three T-shirts and lunch.
Pedigo said he doesn’t want the fee to bar anyone from participating, so there is scholarship money available.
Participants start their days at 8 a.m., usually with some exercises. Then they are taken through various activities by about 12 officers who lead the camp.
Henry has helped with it in the past. This is the first year he is in charge of the whole program.
“I love doing it,” Henry said. “It’s absolute worth it.”
He said he loves to see the friendships the campers make with each other.
The campers are split into “squads” of eight to 10. The officers try to split up the participants in a way where all ages are on the squad.
The squads have to trust each other and work together to do well in activities like the investigation simulation, which explains how detectives investigate a crime scene. The best squads get recognized at the end of the academy.
Henry said all of the 45 campers who did the after-camp survey answered they would recommend the camp.
Pedigo hopes the chance to interact with officers during the week shows young people that police are real people.
“Just because we chose this profession, we’re not robots,” he said. “We’re only humans. We enjoy laughing and having fun.”
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