Academy connects officers with kids
A police officer always tries to gain compliance when making an arrest before resorting to deadly force.
The 16 teens who attended the first day of the Junior Citizen Police Academy at the Fruita Police Department learned that might mean using pepper spray, rubber bullets or a Taser gun.
And, if that doesn’t work, there’s always the sound of a 12-guage bean bag shotgun to show officers mean business.
“How accurate is it to shoot?” asked Kyler Wittwer, 14, who had a lot of questions for Patrol Sergeant Kevin Paquette.
“It’s surprising how accurate they are,” answered Paquette. Usually, however, just the sound is enough to calm someone so that officers can make an arrest, he added.
Paquette told the students about a variety of actual situations he’s been involved in, as well as showed national video of police pursuits and arrests using non-deadly force.
“We are going to use as many means as we can to make a person comply without hurting them,” Paquette explained.
This is the first year of the junior academy. It was started by Officer Nick Peck as a way to reach out to the younger generation in the Fruita community. He was inspired by a similar academy he attended as a teen which eventually led him to a career in law enforcement, he said.
“There’s two reasons really to starting this — first to get kids thinking about their future and to partnership with the community so they can learn about us and we can learn about them,” Peck said.
The students will spend each morning this week learning about a variety of police topics, including how to become a police officer, traffic stops, and community outreach duties. Much of that time will be spent answering the cadet’s questions about law enforcement.
“I just wanted to learn about being a cop so it’s really interesting to me,” Wittwer said.
Those who complete the program will graduate at 7 p.m. Friday at the Fruita Community Center. They will receive a certificate and a t-shirt.
“Hopefully this program will just continue to grow year after year,” Peck said.
For more information about the academy or the Fruita Police Department, “like” their Facebook page.