Vestal Youth Police Academy reaches milestone of 10 years
VESTAL (WBNG) - There was a vision 10 years ago to build community relationships between our law enforcement and area kids across school districts. Chief of Police Stace Kintner with Vestal Police Department was a school resource officer at the time and helped put together the Vestal Youth Police Academy.
“It’s incredible what it has become, the outreach that we get now. The participation from not only from local agencies, but we get state agencies that participate,” said Chief of Police Kintner. “We also have a federal side of things where we talk to the kids about different options.”
“Lots of different law enforcement agencies. Broome County Sheriff, State Police, Endicott Police, a lot of our Vestal officers are showing up. So we get officers from all over the county,” said School Resource Officer Conor Talbut with Vestal Central School District.
Officer Talbut helps to keep the tradition going and said it’s not really a recruitment effort. “A lot of these kids don’t even want to be police officers,” he said. “If we can get them in here and get them having a good time, build a good relationship with the kid, that’s really all we’re really looking for here.”
Chief Kintner said the program is kind of split 60 to 40, in his opinion. “60 percent of the kids that are participating don’t want a career in law enforcement. They’re here for leadership opportunity, spend time with us...,” he said. “That’s a pretty big sacrifice.”
Some attendees, like incoming 11th grader Angelena Mead, have an aspiration to pursue a job in the field. “It helps me because I want to become an FBI agent so like today we did crime cases and stuff so like it helps me figure out what goes into that,” said the attendee. “It gives me certain ideas of criminal justice and law enforcement and what I could actually do.”
Regardless of future career goals, in addition to improving community relationships, the academy aims to build better citizens. “Better leaders in the school district. We teach them CPR, we teach them a lot of leadership skills, a lot about hard work during our PT portion,” said Officer Talbut. “We’re trying to teach a lot of life lessons to them as well.”
Over the span of 10 years, Officer Talbut said over 500 students have attended the summer program. As of now, there are intentions to have the Vestal Youth Police Academy next year.
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