HANCOCK COUNTY — The 32 teenagers were dressed in bright yellow T-shirts with their names taped on the back. They walked into the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department and went immediately into the main meeting room eager to hear a report from the jail staff about how things work at the facility.

The teenagers learned about things like how inmates are categorized into minimum, medium and maximum units, and what happens when an inmate becomes disruptive. A visit to the county jail and a presentation by jail staff was just one of the many things the teenagers are able to experience during the annual summer Teen Police Academy put on each year by county law enforcement.

The Teen Police Academy camp is organized each year by Sheriff’s Jail Commander Bridget Foy, who talked with the teens about jail operations. Kristy Deer | Daily Reporter

The week-long academy is designed to build community relationships between teenagers and officials, and help the young teens to learn more about what police work is really like.

The academy is organized each year by Sheriff’s Jail Commander, Bridget Foy, who started the academy some seven years ago. She gets help each year from numerous law enforcement volunteers, including Greenfield Police Department Sgt. Justin Jackson, who also takes a lead role in organizing events and working with the teens.

“I’ve already lost my voice,” Hancock County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Scott Chapman said as the group walked into the county jail Monday. “I guess I didn’t pace myself very well.”

Foy noted the week started off great with a good workout Monday morning at Greenfield-Central High School, where the instructors pushed the teenagers physically before discussing the camp and then jumping on a school bus and heading to the county jail for a tour of the facility.

Foy asked the teens who gathered for the camp how many of them were truly interested in law enforcement as a possible career and got a positive response.

“I had more hands raised this year than we have in a while for the kids who have a real interest in law enforcement, in some areas of it while the rest of them don’t really know at this time, and that’s OK” Foy said.

In addition to finding out more about how the county jail actually works and seeing it up close in person, the teens had the chance to learn about things like drug investigations, the county’s SWAT team, K-9 programs, and before the week is out, they’ll get to take a visit to a real police shooting range to learn more about firearms training and safety.

“We cover a lot of material in one week,” Foy said. “We’ll let them hear from the county probation department and we’ll cover things like DUI’s and do things like show them defensive tactics law enforcement uses.”

The annual Teen Police Academy was held at Greenfield-Central High School. Students were exposed to examples of training and other aspects of law enforcement. Tuesday, June 11, 2024.

Greenfield-Central High School senior Jordan Cooper said he took part in the camp to learn as much as he could about what is expected of law enforcement officers as he thinks the camp will help him determine if a career in the field is something he really wants.

“I’m pretty sure I want to go into law enforcement or go into the military and be a military officer, one of those two things,” Jordan said. “I thought attending the camp would help me learn a few things.”

One of his fellow classmates, Greenfield-Central High School junior Addison Rossetti first signed up for the camp last year. She had such a fun time she came back this year to learn more.

“I have a real interest in the forensic science part of things,” Addison said. “I’m wanting to learn more about that.”

Prior to getting a tour of the jail facility the teens learned more details about the jail including that the facility had been open for approximately two years. Foy explained to the teens the importance of building the new structure in a growing community before she let her jail staff take over the presentation and share details about the daily duties and responsibilities that go into watching over an estimated 240 inmates on a regular basis.

“In this new jail we have 461 beds so there is a lot more space and we have a lot more space for employees,” Foy said before introducing her jail staff.