Camp for ages 11-17 begins July 21
By Kevin Spradlin
ROCKINGHAM — Young men and women across Richmond County will be checking their mailboxes for acceptance letters.
No, the envelopes won’t bear the seal of any college admissions office. Instead, it’ll come from the Rockingham Police Department’s Junior Police Academy. Up to 50 people ages 11 to 17 will be accepted into the week-long day camp that is scheduled for July 21 through July 25. Each day runs from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m.
Upon completion of the program graduates receive certificates at the annual National Night Out event held on Aug. 5.
There are still spots available in the free camp for those wanting to participate. Interested individuals should call Detective Steve Odom at the Rockingham Police Department at 910-895-2468 or visit www.gorockinghampd.com for details.
Included in the camp itinerary is the opportunity to learn how law enforcement officers do their daily jobs. Campers will learn about patrol techniques, traffic investigations, watch a demonstration of a K9 unit during an article search, learn about case preparation, identify drugs and drug paraphernalia, learn about the airport raid team, visit the 911 telecommunications center and learn about how the SWAT team goes about house entry.
The camp ends with a day at the Browder Park swimming pool.
Camp participants, referred to as cadets, also are expected to tour the Richmond County Jail. Guest speakers include Sheriff James Clemmons and representatives of the North Carolina Highway Patrol, the District Attorney’s Office, the Clerk of Superior Court, the State Bureau of Investigation.
All that is on a professional level. Kelly said, on a personal level, campers will have the chance to “see these police officers are human.”
Officers are people who do something other than “write them a ticket or takes them to jail,” Kelly said.
Despite the six-year age difference between camp participants, Kelly and Odom said the activities and demonstrations draw interest from everyone.
While camp graduates are not police officers, Kelly said cadets do get insight into what it takes to gain entrance into a police academy.
Campers, he said, will “know what it takes not to get into” the academy. “One sad mistakes early in your life can … hinder you from getting into law enforcement.”
For those interested in law enforcement as a career, both Kelly and Odom emphasized the importance of continued education.
“You can’t become a police officer straight out of high school,” Kelly said. “Get your education.”
Kelly and Odom both thanked area businesses — including McDonald’s, Hardees, Rockingham Burking King, Pizza Hut, Mi Casita Mexican restaurant — for supporting the camp by donating food for cadets.