GREENFIELD — Standing at the top of the stairs, Shirley Police Department officer Zachary Fuhrman was imploring the teenagers to pick up the pace and sprint down the hall and then up the stairs at Greenfield-Central High School.
“Come on, let’s go, run, run, faster, push it,” he said, over and over again.
Fuhrman and several law enforcement officials from around the county instructed the annual Hancock County Teen Police Academy Camp this week at various sites around the county.
On this day, the teenage students were learning about how to collect evidence and how to work a crime scene. That was after they spent the morning marching, learning about how traffic stops are conducted, seeing a K-9 officer at work and then partaking in team challenges.
“We’re going to teach them about blood splatter, how to lift a finger print, pretty much everything you look for when collecting evidence,” Fuhrman said.
Fuhrman, who is the full-time School Resource Officer at Eastern Hancock, is one of the many officers who worked the camp, teaching the kids law enforcement skills.
“This is just a blast,” he said. “I did it one day last year and I was like, ‘This is something I really want to do,’ because I really do like working with kids and teaching them things about what we do.”
Close to 40 area teenagers took part. They started the week taking a tour of the Greenfield Police Department then traveled to the new Hancock County Jail where they ate lunch and took a tour before heading back to G-CHS to learn about internet usage and social media from a law enforcement perspective.
J.C. Matlock is a senior at G-CHS and one of the teens attending the camp. She has plans to study criminal justice at Ball State University when she graduates with hopes of becoming a detective. She took a bio-medical class this year at G-CHS that delved into forensic work and said police work is in her future.
“Honestly, I really like this kind of thing,” J.C. said. “I’m learning more and more about this type of career, and I think it’s for me.”
Both of her parents have worked in law enforcement, and she said it was great getting a chance to visit the new Sheriff’s offices and jail as well as tour GPD. She noted while the new jail is big, the lunchtime meal there — the same meal the inmates ate — could have been a little better.
“It wasn’t the best,” J.C. said. “But, it’s not supposed to be great because it is jail.”
Dallas Robbins, 15, a New Palestine High School sophomore, also plans to get into law enforcement work in the future after he enrolls into the military when high school is over.
“I’ll do the military for a little while, but then I’m hoping to maybe be a police officer who gets to work with a K-9 because I just love dogs,” Dallas said. “I think one of the neatest things we’ve seen so far in the camp is the difference between the new and the old jail. There is a big, big difference with a lot more room for the inmates.”
Dallas said his favorite day of the camp is when the teens go to the Hancock County shooting range and run an obstacle course in the morning, have a cookout for lunch and then take part in a tug-o’-war event.
“It really is a lot of fun,” Dallas said.
The goals of the week long camp are to teach the students about team work, discipline, accountability and the basics of what it’s like to be a police officer, the instructors said.
“We’re going to teach them a few things, show them the importance of physical fitness and have a little fun,” Fuhrman said.
Deputy Scott Chapman of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department is always a favorite of the students. That’s because his partner is a K-9 named Spike. Chapman always brings Spike in for a visit and a demonstration.
“I really like bridging the gap with the kids and the teenagers,” Chapman said. “The interaction you get the whole week, letting them see the police departments and meet different officers throughout the week to see what we do, it’s all eye opening.”
Chapman noted he and Sgt. Justin Jackson of the Greenfield Police Department, who is also a member of the County’s Honor Guard squad, take the lead roles in the camp and do things like showing the teenagers how to do proper physical calisthenics and how to march like an officer.
“Justin will take a group of kids and show them how to fold an American flag properly, things they might not be thinking about,” Chapman said.
In addition to the many officers stopping by throughout the week to instruct and answer questions, the group traveled to the Hancock County shooting range Wednesday where, in addition to having some fun, they learned about some of the tools police officers use. That included checking out SWAT equipment, seeing a drone in action and a helicopter up-close.
Brad Olsen, 19, is a former G-CHS student who attends Ivy Tech and has future plans to become a deputy when he turns 21. He was one of the cadet teens helping out.
“I’ve been here once as a student and this is my second time as an instructor,” he said. “I love learning as much as I can about law enforcement and you always learn something new as a participant or student instructor.”
Many of the teens who attend the week-long camp go on to be part of the Sheriff’s Explorers program designed for kids interested in a career in law enforcement or a related field in the criminal justice system.
The camp wraps up Friday (today) with team relays, a massive game of dodge ball and a law enforcement panel in the afternoon before graduation.