By Sharon MyersThe Dispatch

The Lexington Police Department wants to help the community’s teenagers understand what law enforcement does and how they go about performing their duties.

The department is holding a three-day police youth camp for teenagers ages 13 to 16 this week with programs in areas such as crime scene investigations, SWAT team and K-9 demonstrations and the processing of suspects.

Capt. Michael Hunt of the Lexington Police Department said members of the LPD had been discussing holding a camp such as this for a while. He said that there are multiple purposes behind having a camp for teenagers.

“It’s interaction with the police and the youth here in town,” Hunt said. “It’s being a mentor to them, teaching them about leadership and learning about going out and doing good. We want them to know what it is we do and why.”

Over the three-day period, students saw hands-on demonstrations at the police crime lab, including fingerprinting, DNA testing, footprint casting and crime scene processing. They spend one day focusing on the physical aspect with ropes and obstacle courses.

Camp members also performed a community service project for a citizen and learned about processes in the legal system and the different areas of the juvenile system. Lexington City Councilman Donald Holt, who is also a teacher at Lexington Senior High School, spoke with the teens about bullying and being a positive role model.

Tanner Sizemore, 13, has tinkered with the idea of joining law enforcement when he gets older. He said he was very interested when he heard about the camp and has enjoyed all of the demonstrations.

“I thought it would be fun and cool,” Tanner said. “I liked the fingerprinting and the flash bang stuff. It’s really cool and pretty nice of them (to hold this camp).”

Eric Caudle, 15, also attended the camp and said he has enjoyed learning the different aspects of being a law enforcement officer.

“It is something to do during the summer, and it looked pretty interesting,” Caudle said. “We’ve looked at the CSI crime lab, saw a SWAT team demonstration and a K-9 demonstration. I have learned a lot. My favorite part was the SWAT team demonstration. It was pretty cool.”

This is the first year the LPD has held the free camp for students. The department received a $1,500 donation from Point Security in Lexington to help fund the inaugural year. Hunt said officers are deeply appreciative of the donation and said it will be put to good use.

He said the officers wanted to hold this camp to become more involved with students, to educate them on what law enforcement officers do and to hopefully bring a fuller understanding to all. Hunt said it is important to officers that the public, especially the youth of the area, know who their police officers are and what they do to protect the community.

“They ride by the police department or see a patrol car ride through their neighborhood, and they may not know what actually goes on,” Hunt said. “The officer could be on his computer looking up a tag, responding to a call, reading notes or going to an emergency.”

Sharon Myers can be reached at (336) 249-3981, ext. 228, or at Follow Sharon on Twitter: @LexDisptachSM

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