Christiansburg teens get real world experience in annual Police Academy

CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) High school students in Christiansburg are spending a week of their summer vacation learning first hand what it takes to be a police officer.

It's a joint effort between the Crime Prevention Team of the Police Department and the Christiansburg Recreation Center.

The hope is to create a stronger relationship between officers and youth, as the kids get older.

For five days, a small group of teenagers go over plenty of exercises, like DUI procedures on Tuesday, to get an inside look into the minds of police.

Crime Prevention Officer David Wall explained, "It gives them a better understanding of what it's like to be a law enforcement officer and why we make some of the decisions that we do while we're on the job."

The kids said they understand better that police are around to help them. As long as they follow the law, officers aren't meant to be feared.

Christiansburg 15-year old Rally Williams said, "A lot of people, since the media now a days, just think police officers do a bad job when they're honestly just regular people just doing their jobs and I think it's just a good opportunity for everyone to come out here and just see what it's all about."

But the week works two-fold.

Some of these kids hope to one day wear the badge themselves.

"That is not our primary goal, however there is several kids that are in the program that have showed interest in law enforcement," Officer Wall said.

Rising High School Senior Tommy Darr said his whole family is involved with police work, and wearing the blue uniform has been a dream of his since he was a child.

The 17-year old explained, "I've realized what the job's actually going to be about, the severity of how it's going to be, and the whole atmosphere of what the job is. It's different than what I thought, but it's something that I'm looking forward to."

Caitlyn Epperly also wants to be in law enforcement, but isn't sure to what capacity. So Police Chief Mark Sisson recommended this Police Academy.

"I'll know what more to expect and I'll know more people to get more resources and stuff," she said.

Epperly even won Tuesday's handcuff competition, cuffing her partner in just over five seconds.

The kids have five days total with the officers, which includes a Courthouse and Jail tour Wednesday morning.

Then they will graduate Friday afternoon with a fuller understanding of what police do.