By JB Clark
TUPELO – A group of teenage police cadets hustled around the grounds of the North Mississippi Law Enforcement Training Center on Wednesday to try to find the killer responsible for the body in their barracks.
The body was a dummy and the evidence planted, but the skills they were learning will help them one day if they pursue their ambitions to become law enforcement officers.
The 16 cadets, ranging in age from 14 to 17, have spent the majority of the past two weeks learning what it takes to be a law enforcement officer.
“This class has been great,” said School Resource Officer Neil Naron. “They start off as normal kids but through the two weeks they’ve grown as a team, grown in their individual confidence and in their abilities. We had some who had never made their bed or done laundry. Here they are responsible for that.”
The Junior Police Academy is a program designed for high school students interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement or students who want to know more about what police do.
Wednesday morning the cadets had to interview witnesses, collect evidence, photograph the crime scene and question suspects to try and solve a homicide as part of their crime scene investigation class.
The students also participated in classes on juvenile law, first aid and firearms – receiving their National Rifle Association first steps certifications in pistols and rifles.
Jayla Sanders, the 16-year-old cadet captain, said she enrolled in the two-week program because she wants to pursue a career in law enforcement.
“I like the idea of being a patrol officer,” she said. “I also kind of want to be in the Military Police.”
Cadet Corporal Matt Duke, 17, said he enjoys the discipline and teamwork the program teaches and hopes to apply what he’s learned as he pursues a career in the Navy.
Cadets graduate today after two weeks of courses and a day off at Geyser Falls water park.