BGPD Junior Police Academy kicks off with a bank robbery scenario

Today, over two dozen children joined Bowling Green police officers for an up-close and personal look at what it takes to become a law enforcement officer.

The Junior Police Academy is a three-day course the department puts on every year for children aged ten to thirteen years old.

Today the question posed to them was, “who robbed the bank?”

Junior Police Officer in-the-making, Will Fowlkes, 10, explains, “there’s a bank robbery and we’re investigating who did it and we have two suspects,” alongside fellow participant, Nelson Mae, 10, who says, “we found some fingerprints and went to the police van, and found some evidence and we’re trying to figure out who the bank robber is.”

Kicking off the first day of the academy, officers took the children to a local bank where they interviewed individuals leaving the scene of a fake robbery, conducted traffic stops, and ended up at Safety City—a replica of Bowling Green streets located off Scottsville Rd.—where they learned how to process a crime scene and hopefully identify a suspect.

Officer Ronnie Ward with the Bowling Green Police Department explains, “this academy is set up so they experience exactly what the officers experience and do some of the training.”

Officer Ward notes it’s not only a learning opportunity, but a way to recruit the next generation of law enforcement.

“We’ve had people that have started in Junior Police Academy and then have gone on to become pathfinders and then cadets and then officers,” Officer Ward says.

Although he says the academy us about peaking the youngest generation’s interest in police work, it’s also about letting them know they have someone to turn to— “they get to know us now and they can see that we’re human just like they are. We like to do the same things they like to do and we like to have fun, but we also want them to know that we’re here to help them if they need us and if they have any problems then they can come talk to us.”

True to life as an officer, at the end of the week, the junior officers will testify in court on all the things that they’ve seen, and of course, graduate from the academy and receive an official badge.