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Cadets get first hand look at police work

Emily Bernard (left) and Sophie Adams (right) talk about their acceptance into Police Camp.  - Britt Santowski
Emily Bernard (left) and Sophie Adams (right) talk about their acceptance into Police Camp.
— image credit: Britt Santowski

Two grade 10 students from Edward Milne community school have been selected to participate as “Cadets” in the Saanich Police’s eight-day Police Camp starting March 23, 2013.

Sophie Adams and Emily Bernard, both 15 years old, were selected after a selection process that started in October.

The application process was long, detailed and time consuming.

According to Sophie’s mother,  Heather Adams, “They had to have letters of reference from certain community figures that would attest to their character, and their grades had to be a certain level.” Academic success was important as the camp occurs during a school week. Also, there is an academic component to the program itself.

According to the Saanich Police’s Police Camp website, “Studies include a look at the Criminal Code, Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Response Options, Self Defense, Investigative Techniques and the Motor Vehicle Act.”

Applicants also had to write and submit an essay about what policing meant to them. To “protect the community,” said Sophie, and Emily re-iterated, “(to ensure) that the community is a safe place.”

Once the paper work was in, they wentthrough two panel interviews.

First, they did a mock interview at their school, where the panel consisted of twopeople who coached them through the process.

The real panel interview was a bit more intimidating, as the panel consisted of four from the program itself, including police officers. Heather added that Emily and Sophie “had to dress the role.”

Both girls agreed on what was ultimately being sought throughout the process: “We had to be able to cope in stressful situations and have a positive disposition.”

The actual program promises to be challenging. The girls are anticipating eight cram-packed days, each of which is packed with 17-hour of activities that include “shift work, academic training, protocols, rights and freedoms, simulates police bootcamp, and  midnight raids,” said Heather.

Constable Drew Hildred, the Saanich Police School Liaison, concurs. A typical day, he says, consists of getting up at 5:30 a.m. for physical training. After breakfast, students listen to presentations about various aspect of policing; in the afternoon, they do simulations based on morning presentations. After dinner students do drills, and arrest and control tactics. For the rest of the evening, some students work on their own presentations, while others patrol the camp, up until 1 a.m.

On completion, cadets will be required to do a presentation at their schools. At EMCS, Emily and Sophie will receive four credits in recognition of their achievement.

When asked what they hope to get out of the program, Sophie wondered how they were going to be changed when they completed the program. Her mother Heather said that “for some, it’s life changing.” She hoped that “they get to see the bigger picture, not getting stuck on the drama of day-to-day, that there’s more out there than what goes on in high school.”

The Police Camp website states, the “fundamental reason for this program is for young people to be given the information and skills required to go back to their respective schools and demonstrate leadership skills by speaking to their peers about community safety.” Some graduates end up pursuing a career in policing.

The program is available to students in Grades 10, 11 and 12 on Southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. The program is open to 50 candidates each year. About 100 students applied this year. Students who enter the program typically graduate, unless they violate regulations.

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