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By Devese “Dee” Ursery
Several potential future police officers have graduated from the Collinsville Police Youth Academy.
On June 16, the Collinsville Police Youth Academy graduated a class of 19 cadets from the two-week training. Cadets between the ages of 14-17, from the region participated in exercises targeting various departments or sections of law enforcement.
Collinsville Police Chief Steve Evans said the police youth academy was held at a couple locations. He said the general location of the academy was at Collinsville High School, but the police department serves as homebase.
“We held our first Youth Academy in 2018, Covid forced us to cancel in 2020, so this was our fifth youth academy,” Evans said.
Most of the classes at the academy were conducted by Collinsville Police Officers, while law enforcement professionals from area agencies taught other subjects, Evans said.
The training provided junior recruits with hands-on experience that officers actually use in real-life situations. Cadets experienced firearm training and police use of force. They also learned operations of the patrol and investigations division.
Evans said cadets also studied constitutional law, drug awareness and made jail and courthouse visits, which included a mock trial. Cadets got to experience ILEAS-SWAT, K-9, Illinois State Police Air Operations, and CPR/first aid/AED training from Collinsville Fire Department and the ARCH medical helicopter.
To show the importance of giving back to the community, cadets did trash pick up throughout the area for their community service project. In past years the academy has done community services for such organizations as the Collinsville Food Pantry and Parks Department, respectively.
At the end of the training several cadets received accolades for their outstanding accomplishments during their stint in the Police Youth Academy. Cadets Gabe Davis and Emelia Long received the male and female Athletic Achievement Awards. Frank Tempus won the Outstanding Cadet Award, while Chase Hughen received the Spirit Award.
Earlier this year CPD published a video that details what the program is about. In the video, SRO Cortney Colbert, Collinsville PD said the primary objective is to get the children to see the ins and outs of what it’s like to be a police officer. She explains that a lot of people see them outside the station and think that all police do are traffic stops.
“Some people don’t really know what else it entails,” Colbert said. ”It entails everything from who you are as a person all the way to what you’re doing out there on the street.”
Police officers and other emergency personnel like firefighters, paramedics and EMT train often in order to stay ready and abreast of all new information regarding their agencies.
“We’re always training,” Colbert said. “We love training and to see children wanting to learn more information, more about this job and then all the different outlets that this job can lead to, it’s great to see.”
In the video, SRO Rebecca Temple, Collinsville PD praised the student’s for their maturity and how well they got along and with each other.
“They’re able to have fun together, we’re talking about a group of total strangers,” Temple said. “Some children are from Highland, some from Collinsville and some from Alhambra, most of them have never met each other before and they were, just in a matter of a couple days, getting along super-well and working together as a team, which has been awesome.”
According to the video, one cadet said that the academy exceeded his expectations with how in-depth they were with the tours and training.
School Resource Officers, Cortney Colbert and Rebecca Temple did an outstanding job running the day to day operations of the academy, according to Evans . He said they spend every hour of the day with the cadets and that they also received a lot of assistance from Maryville School Resource Officer Frank Leffler.
“We hope some cadets develop a further interest in the law enforcement profession,” Evans said. “At the minimum, we hope it helps them become better citizens.”