The Everett Police Department (EPD) needed a better connection with the youth of the city 20 years ago, and Det. Kenny Kelley had heard about programs in other parts of the country where they conduct a police academy for kids.
He thought it just might work in Everett too.
He was right.
The proof was in the pudding on Friday when the largest Jr. Academy ever – some 61 young people and several high school mentors – graduated from the week-long program in the auditorium of Everett High School.
“This is a great week for us,” said Capt. Paul Landry to the graduates. It’s our 20th year and the word I’m getting is this is probably one of the best sessions and it’s certainly the largest session too. Thank you for your attention and your wonderful behavior all week. I hope you had a little fun along the way, and maybe a lot of fun.”
Kelley has participated in the Academy for many years, but this year his work took priority. He said it was a collaborative effort that got the long-standing program off the ground, and it has paid off.
“It was a collaborative effort in the department,” he said. “It was going on elsewhere at the time, but not around here. We were the first in the area. We had a good youth program at the time and were able to bring that into the program. I get people all the time that remember me from the past, people who participated in the Academy. Sometimes I don’t recognize them, but they always recognize me.”
The Junior Police Academy each year serves youth in the middle school ages, and uses physical training, discipline training and fun field trips to build relationships with officers and youth. Chief Steve Mazzie is a big supporter of the program, and the officers also enjoy volunteering to staff the Academy.
This year, 14 officers participated in one way or another – whether leading a squad, organizing the visit from a real Blackhawk helicopter at Glendale Park, or leading physical training.
Sgt. Billy Fox directed the program this year, and said it was a very successful week. He said officers were able to “let their hair down” and really interact with young kids in the city.