By Devese “Dee” Ursery
The Collinsville Police Department is gearing up to sponsor and host its fifth year of the Collinsville Youth Police Academy. Regional teenagers will have the opportunity to gain some knowledge and experience on what law enforcement goes through in regards to training.
The police department is searching for 20 students between the ages of 14-17 years old to participate in the bond building initiative. The youth academy is open to all public and private school students in Collinsville Community Unit School District 10.
The annual two-week youth academy sessions are slated to start at 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. from June 5-9 and again from June 12-16. The sessions will take place at two different locations, Collinsville Police Headquarters and Collinsville High School.
Detective Josh Hunt, a 15-year veteran of the Collinsville PD said, the purpose of the youth academy is to help community youths gain a better understanding of themselves.
“The department desires to foster positive interactions between officers of the CFD and the community,” Hunt said. “CPD aims to aid the youth of our community in building better versions of themselves as well as assist them in gaining self-confidence.”
Hunt has worked his entire career with the Collinsville PD and has the opportunity to be assigned to several agencies within the department. He worked for the Metropolitan Enforcement Group of Southwestern Illinois, the DEA Task Force, the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System, Special Response Team and the Investigation Division.
He said the academy helps students to open their minds to other career paths within law enforcement beyond the most visible, which is the patrol division. CPD wants to give children within the community the opportunity to see and learn what their local police officers do on a daily basis.
The police youth academy offers participants hands-on experience with the various tools law enforcement officers use in everyday scenarios. Students will be taught of the different types of investigations and how each is handled. They will also have access to current emergency professionals working in their area of expertise who can answer questions and provide real-world knowledge.
Students will receive instruction from SWAT, the K-9 Division, Illinois State Police Air Operations and drug awareness experts. Agencies like the Collinsville Fire Department and ARCH medical helicopter will also participate to instruct students on CPR/first-aid/AED training.
“Some of the instruction will be given in a classroom setting while others will be more dynamic, potentially outside for extended periods,” Hunt said.
Hunt said that students would also conduct one community service project in Collinsville to help show the importance of giving back to the community. He said that cadets have assisted the Collinsville Food Pantry as well as the Collinsville Parks Department in past community service projects.
Chief Steve Evans, who spearheaded the youth academy, commented on the importance of the academy to the community.
“The kids get to experience many aspects of law enforcement and they get treated to exciting activities,” Evans said. “Most importantly they’re put in situations that allow them to develop positive relations with our police officers.”
To apply for the Collinsville Youth Academy applicants are instructed to go to the city’s website at www.collinsvilleil.org, follow links for the police department and then the youth academy to complete an online application. The deadline is May 19.