Officer Angel McCauley demonstrates how to arrest someone during a traffic stop with Officer Colin Cope and academy participant Aiden Radabaugh.

BUCKHANNON – The Buckhannon Police Department’s summer youth academy is seeing its highest attendance ever this year with 28 participants.

Police Chief Matt Gregory said the academy has garnered increasing interest since the department began hosting the camp in 2013.

“This this the fourth year for the academy – we do the academy every other year – and it has continued to grow,” Gregory said. “The academy gives those who have an interest in law enforcement a unique chance to see how it actually works.”

The participants are middle school-aged and high school-aged, and the academy will last from June 24 to June 28 from 9 a.m. to noon each day.

“I’ve always liked to be involved with the community, especially the youth,” Gregory said. “We’ve had a variety of programs that we’ve taken out to schools and other youth groups in the past and I thought ‘Well, we could do something central to the Department and the law enforcement profession and continue to garner that interest, and there is a lot of youth who have that interest in police work and they want to know more,’ and I felt that having this program would enable that to occur.”

He said the academy features several hands-on activities that teach the participants what police do. On Monday, he said they gave tours of the police station and the fire department and taught them about the application process of becoming a police officer and academy training.

Academy participants Sheldon Lantz, Brandon Kittle and Baxon Claypool discover how hard it is to walk with goggles that simulate being intoxicated.

On Tuesday, June 25, there were more hands-on activities where the police walked participants through mock traffic stops and car searches; there was also a DUI simulator and tours of the Upshur E911 Communication Center.

“We also have guest speakers come in like the FBI center, the state police crime lab to talk about forensics and evidence,” Gregory said. “We have some hands-on evidence activities like fingerprinting, we do mock accidents and a mock crime scene.”

He said the academy is also a fun way to spend part of the summer.

“First and foremost, it gives them the chance to get to know a lot our officers on a first-name basis,” Gregory said. “It’s a good chance for interactions, especially for those with an interest in law enforcement or some aspect of criminal justice, it gives them a look at what the job entails and last but certainly not least, it gives them something fun to do in the summer time.”