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Teen Police Academy offers kids an inside look at law enforcement

Local high school students will have the opportunity to try out their hands at fingerprinting in the Rosemount and Apple Valley Police Departments’ Teen Police Academy. (Submitted Photo)

Rosemount teens interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement will have an opportunity to get a behind the scenes look at what police officers do.

For the first time, the Rosemount Police Department is teaming up with Apple Valley to offer local teens an inside look at public safety services with Teen Police Academy. Participants will learn about all aspects of police operations and services, from use of force scenarios and booking processes to crime scene investigations.

Students will receive police department tours, squad car demonstrations, and a look at the types of shoot/don't shoot scenarios officers may face. They will get an inside look at the work of the Dakota County MAAG unit (SWAT team) and the County's Drug Task Force. They also will cover such topics as traffic stops, pursuits, DWIs, and property and evidence.

Apple Valley crime prevention specialist Pam Walter said some of the academy's most popular activities include a simulated impaired driving experience using a special go-kart, an investigations unit that offers participants a chance to do some fingerprinting, and a peek at the K-9 unit and Dakota Communications Center.

"We try to make it hands-on," Walter said. "We try to get kids up and moving."

Though this is the first time Rosemount has offered a police academy specifically for teens, the program is nothing new for Apple Valley, which is entering its 13th year with Teen Police Academy.

Walter said the academy tends to attract high schoolers who are interested pursuing in a career in law enforcement or curious about the criminal justice system in general. It offers participants a better understanding of what it takes to be an officer, she said.

"It's just one community relations program where we can try and reach kids," Walter said. "They get to see a different side of an officer. If they can meet officers face to face, it makes our officers look human. We want to invite them in and say, 'We want to have a relationship with you. We want you to see what we do.'"

Walter said in addition to helping improve relations between police officers and youth in the community, the program also aids children on the cusp of making poor decisions.

"It's community outreach, and it's prevention as well," she said.

Teen Police Academy is open to high school aged students who live or attend school in Apple Valley or Rosemount. Classes will meet from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Tuesdays for seven weeks beginning Jan. 31. Classes will take place at a variety of locations in Rosemount and Apple Valley. The program is free of charge.

The deadline to apply for Teen Police Academy is Jan. 24, though Walter advises early registration to ensure a spot, as class size is limited. Interested persons can register online at bit.ly/2js5EsM.

For more information, contact Rosemount police officer Julie Pulkrabek at 651-322-3122 or julie.pulkrabek@ci.rosemount.mn.us, or Apple Valley Crime Prevention Specialist Pam Walter at 952-953-2706 or pwalter@cityofapplevalley.org.

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