Sunday, November 30, 2003

Students learn what's involved in police work

By Anna Guido
Enquirer contributor

[IMAGE] Anthony Ziggas, 13, an eighth-grader at Milford Junior High School, photographs the "victim" (custodian Debbie Beverly) at a mock crime scene Wednesday at the school.
(Gary Landers photo)
MILFORD - The body of a woman, her face streaked with blood from an apparent gunshot wound to the head, is discovered in a small building behind the junior high school.

On a nearby folding table are playing cards, some cash and a suicide note. The note's message: "I lost everything! I can't go on with life. Tell everyone I'm sorry!" Signed, Deb."

Now it's up to a group of teenagers to solve this fictitious crime.

"I think she was murdered," said Whitney Payne, 13, of Miami Township. "She was probably playing cards with someone because there's two hands."

Whitney's job in this morning mock crime scene investigation was to take notes. Jacob Hollon's job was to collect evidence. With latex gloves on both hands, Jacob, 13, also of Miami Township, took a cottonswab and wipedblood from the victim's face before placing the swab in an "evidence" bag.

Whitney, Jacob and 13 other Milford Junior High eighth-graders are members of the Junior Police Academy club, a pilot semester-long program that began this fall.

The club, one of only two in Greater Cincinnati schools, is run by school resource officer Rob Heideman of the Miami Township Police Department and social studies teacher Dan Eckert.

The Austin, Texas-based program began in 1992 as an outgrowth of community-oriented policing. The program targets middle school and high school students and receives funding from the federal "COPS in Schools" grant.

"My hope, is that students come away from this class feeling like police officers are approachable, and that they pick up some skills for use in everyday life," Heideman said.

Eckert said it gives students a less adversarial perspective of law enforcement and helps to illustrate the positive impact police have on the community.

In 2000, Goshen Middle School became the first Ohio school to offer Junior Police Academy. It's taught as an elective course for eighth-graders.

For information about Junior Police Academy:


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