Nine young men graduated from Albany Police Youth Academy as its first class Saturday, after learning closely from police officers on various law enforcement issues for two months.
The Academy was launched by Officer David Belman of the Albany Police Department to help teenagers understand the nature of police work and stay away from criminal activities.
The students have taken about ten classes on topics ranging from criminal investigation to Internet safety since early October. All instructors were officers from the police department. They also went on a field trip to the Sheriff’s Department of Alameda County for a special training on handling driving and use of force scenarios.
“They got to see what police work is really like, not the version they see on TV or in movies, ” said Police Chief Mike McQuiston.
16-year-old John Nagel, a junior at Albany High School, was very excited at the classes and especially the field trip. He said he joined the program because he wanted to become a police officer.
17-year-old Kerrick Woodward-Sollesnes said he learned something valuable about Constitutional Law from the perspective of a police officer.
“It’s interesting to see what kinds of laws the officers have to keep in mind when interacting with the public, ” he said.
13-year-old Jallah Bautista, a student at Albany Middle School, said the most important lesson he had learned at the program was to stay away from alcohol.
“I used to know I should not drink, but I didn’t know why, ” he said. “Now I’ve learned the harm alcohol does to our body. It kind of scared me into not doing it.”
Glad at the popularity of the program, Officer Belman is now preparing to recruit more teenagers from the community to start a second class.
“We’ll get the kids stand on the straight path before they get strayed, ” he said.
Contact Officer Belman at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in the program.