Rachel Miller, 17, figures most teens don’t like police, but being part of the RCMP Youth Academy has helped her see things from a different perspective.
Miller is one of 15 students selected from School District 73 taking part in a week-long RCMP Youth Academy at Westsyde elementary.
The goal of the academy is to provide youth interested in a career in law enforcement with an opportunity to experience police training and scenarios. They are introduced to police defense, arrest procedures, law, air control, emergency response, defense tactics and the dog unit.
On top of their classes, lectures, demonstration and physical training there are chores to be done as well, said Const. Rupert Meinke, Kamloops RCMP school liaison officer.
This camp is painful, said Rachel Miller, a 17-year-old recruit.
“Some days we have done up to 600 pushups.”
Aside from the physical difficulties, she said the camp has really opened up her eyes.
“It’s interesting to learn about the people protecting our community,” said Miller.
“It makes me respect cops more. As a teen, you usually only see cops at parties and they are cranky because they have been up all night, but now I see it from their perspective.”
One of Miller’s favourite parts of the week so far was watching one of the officers get tasered. She learned that every officer has to get shocked before they can actually use a taser themselves.
She said the toughest part of the program is admitting to your mistakes.
“As a kid you want to make up excuses but they don’t allow that here; if you mess up, you have to be accountable for it.”
One of Thursday’s demonstrations was a spectator event for 14 of the 15 students. Avery Ryersee volunteered to suit up in a thick canvas suit and helmet in order to be taken down by a fast and fierce police dog.
“I wasn’t afraid to volunteer because I knew I was safe with the dog suit on,” said the 16-year-old.
Ryersee loves the week-long program and it has led him to being sure he wants to pursue the law enforcement career path.
“I want to be part of the police force to help the community and I feel blessed to have this opportunity,” said Ryersee.
Meinke said most of the students expressed interest in pursuing a career in the field.
One of last year’s students who came back to volunteer this week, said the youth academy definitely cemented the desire to be a police officer.
“There are so many cool opportunities in the police force,” said Travis Ormrod.
The RCMP Youth Academy is held throughout B.C. and this is its second year in Kamloops.