By Chris Edwards
WOODVILLE – Woodville Police Department will begin its annual Teen Police Academy next week. The event, now in its eleventh year, helps familiarize area teenagers with law enforcement and emergency personnel procedures, but also helps many young people see past many stereotypes associated with police and police work, according to Woodville PD Officer Bubba Sheffield.
"We love our teenagers and want the best for them," Sheffield said. "It is great when we see kids' attitudes change toward police and show them that we're not just eating donuts, drinking coffee and taking people to jail."
The academy will run from Monday, July 9 through Thursday, July 12. Each day's training will begin at 9 a.m. at the police station in Woodville. The academy is free for all participants.
Sheffield said that by showing teenagers all of the things police officers do it opens up a career path that many of them had not envisioned before taking part in the academy. "There was a young lady who went through it. She wanted to be a nurse, but after the academy, she decided she wanted to go into criminal justice. Her parents weren't to thrilled," he said with a chuckle.
The City of Woodville funds the academy, and over the four-day course, participants earn 30 hours of training, which, according to Sheffield, will help on future resumes toward employment.
"We wanted to inform kids as to what police officers do. A lot of times they are scared of police. We want to open their eyes about police and police work," Sheffield said.
Some of the speakers on the schedule include Woodville PD officers and Chief Scott Yosko; Municipal Judge Judith Haney; FBI Agent Mike Carroll and Sgt. Lawrence Hicks with the SWAT team. Sheffield added that many of the participants in the past really enjoyed learning about the SWAT team and seeing their equipment.
Food is provided for each day of training and participants will receive T-shirts and certificates to show their completion of the academy.
Anyone interested in taking part in the Teen Police Academy can contact Woodville PD at 409-283-2562. Applications are available at the station, located at 113 N. Charlton St., in Woodville.