Naperville Police Department holds fifth Youth Police Academy

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Naperville teens were interrogated by a K9 last week, but thankfully it was just part of Naperville’s Youth Police Academy.

Five years of the Youth Police Academy

Beginning in early June, local youth have had the chance to interact and learn about the police through the Naperville Police Department.

“We do it each year. It’s a six-week program. It’ll be once a week, gives teens an opportunity to see the different aspects of the police department,” said Naperville Police Officer, Sgt. Greg Rink. “And it also gives them a chance to interact positively with police officers and throughout our department.”

Every Thursday, students are introduced to different departments and get an in-depth look at them. In week five, it was the Canine Unit and Naperville’s Special Response Team, also known as SWAT in other cities. 

“I really enjoyed today because I do want to join the SWAT team. It was cool going through the vehicles and seeing the dogs,” said Youth Police Academy student, Aiden Winkleman.

“Meeting the canines today and me learning that like, well, that probably being a canine holder might be like the best for me, “ said Youth Pollice Academy student, Maddie Wilson.

Hands-on learning

The interactive learning is what students enjoy the most, and the kids can even conduct traffic stops on some Naperville officers.

“There’s some like classroom work, I guess you call it, where we have speakers that tell them a little bit about stuff. And then there is also a lot of interactive stuff they get to. We take them out to the back lot and they get to pull traffic stops on some of our officers. Last week, they get to pull fingerprints off of cops. It’s just a lot of interactive stuff that allows them to kind of see the different departments and how they work.”

Creating friendships through the academy

Throughout five years, 95 local teens have gone through the Naperville Youth Police Academy. 

In the final class, students hear from the Naperville Police Cadets and graduate from the Academy. Throughout the six weeks, relationships are made spanning Naperville high schools.

“Making those new relationships and (becoming) friends with people, and knowing people, really helped everything,” said Wilson. “Because the first day I came here, I was just sitting in the back and I was not really paying attention. But then since I’ve met new people, that really helped me to open up more and to learn more things instead of just sit in the back and just listen.”

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