A cadre of fresh-faced boys and girls got an up close and personal view of law enforcement last month, thanks to the Marana Police Department.
The group of 19 youngsters between the ages of 12 and 16 participated in the department’s inaugural Teen Citizen’s Police Academy.
The academy was the brainchild of MPD Community Relations Officer David Danielson, who worked hand-in-hand with the teens on a series of realistic training exercises. They worked through a variety of topics, from physical education drills to in-classroom sessions, covering the ins-and-outs of an officer’s daily workload.
Danielson was thrilled with the dedication and effort the teens showed during the academy, held from July 14-20. He said the collective showed great initiative during their exercises.
Danielson added that the department’s goal in hosting the academy was simple, to provide a quality opportunity to reach out to the next generation of Marana residents.
“The mission behind this academy is a simple one: Provide a safe educational environment where kids can see what it’s like to be a police officer,” he said. “Not only that but we recognize that it’s summer and we wanted to provide another safe place kids can go to for learning.”
Academy participant Matthew Moriarty, an eighth grade student at Pusch Ridge Christian Academy, said he thoroughly enjoyed his time with the department. Moriarty said the academy provided him a quality opportunity to gain a behind the scenes look at the life of an officer.
“It’s been a good experience so far,” Moriarty said. “I found out a lot about what officers do and it seems like a fun job.”
The academy’s first year success is a pleasant surprise for Danielson and the rest of the department, who didn’t have much time to turn a dream into reality.
The academy’s maturation from idea to reality took mere months, with the department finalizing their curriculum in May.
They were able to reach out to several local businesses for support, including Barro’s Pizza, Chick Fil-A, Jimmy John’s and Jersey Mikes.
Danielson thanked the businesses for donating meals to the academy participants, saying their support made the academy feasible.
He said the academy had its share of ups and downs, but none that exceeded what they expected from a five-day camp that ran from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.
Danielson enjoyed getting to know the cast of teenagers, joking about their refreshing sense of candor.
“The kids have been a blast,” he said. “Teenagers are so vocal and honest, it’s sort of a reality check. When they come right up to you and let you know how old you are based on your performance, you know you’re having a good time.”
Moriarty recommends the academy to any local teens, saying the combination of relay races, exercise and classroom work is worth the effort.
“It’s pretty fun and I think they should definitely try it out,” Moriarty said. “It’s fun and there’s so much you can do, which is great.”