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At a time when kids across the country have countless summer programs and camps they’re able to join, one sheriff’s department in Missouri is offering middle schoolers an inside look at law enforcement.
The Clay County Sheriff’s Department is holding a junior police academy at the Maple Park Middle School in the North Kansas City School District this summer.
Clay County Deputy Sheperd Owens told “Fox & Friends” on Wednesday that the junior police academy is a way for the department to better integrate into the communities it serves.
Corporal Guy ‘Bear’ McCulley added that the academy is also a way to teach children that the police aren’t the bad guys.
“We try to make it a point to show them that there’s a different side than what’s shown about us every day,” McCully said.
“We have a great partnership with the North Kansas City School District, so with their help, we were able to change a lot of perspective [sic] on us and get involved in the community a lot,” McCully said. “It’s helped us a lot.”
Two 8th graders, Damien Perez and Alaya Owens, also spoke with “Fox & Friends” about their experience in the junior police academy.
“I learned a lot of hands-on activities like how to do a felony stop, a lot of car stops,” Perez said. “We also learned about how to write reports and a lot of other things.”
Alaya Owens said she chose to do the junior police academy because she wants to be a police officer when she grows up – a dream inspired by her uncle, who’s an officer.
“I really want to help people,” she said.
She said her favorite part of the academy so far is when they got to meet the police dogs.
“There’s a lot to learn,” Alaya Owens said of the junior police academy. “It’s a lot to get into, but it’s really cool.”
“I really want to help people.”
— Alaya Owens, 8th grader and aspiring police officer
For Deputy Sheperd Owens said helping with the junior police academy on top of his regular job has been a positive experience.
“Any opportunity that we can go out there and make a difference and show people what we’re truly here for and erase some of those stigmas that have been placed on us, [it’s] always a good thing,” Sheperd Owens said.
Ann W. Schmidt is a lifestyle reporter and editor for Fox News Digital.