Amid bursts of applause and cheers, about 750 students graduated from the New York Police Departments eighth annual Youth Police Academy last Thursday at York College Theater in Jamaica.
During the course of the summer, the students learned about teamwork, the role of police officers, collaboration with Urban Park Rangers and how the academy works to improve community relations, said Deputy Commissioner of Community Affairs Frederick J. Patrick.
Patrick congratulated the young people ranging in age from 10 to 17, and dressed in the academys blue logo uniform shirt and black pants or jeans.
The program began in 1996 under the auspices of the NYPDs Youth Services Section.
Sgt. Michael Tesoriero, director of Queens Youth Services and the academy at York College, said the programs purpose was to show young people what its like to be a police officer and maybe get into law enforcement. Reaction from parents was highly positive.
Patricia Shepherd said her daughter, Shemiah, 12, was very eager to participate. I think its good for the community and the kids. It gives them something to do and keeps them out of trouble, the mother said.
Addy Garcia, whose 11-year-old son, Carlos Martinez, also took part in the program, said it keeps children off the streets. It gives them discipline and its fun. She plans to enroll her son again next year.
Theresa Williams of Springfield Gardens heard about the program from her childrens school, PS 156. I thought it was an excellent idea, she said.
Her eldest daughter Sherise, 10, said they gave us lots of stuff, like caps, T-shirts, water bottles, tokens and information.
Williams liked the safe environment, the discipline and the drug and gang resistance tips. It gave them the basic tools they needed to survive, she said.
Even though Sherise wants to enroll next summer, she has no plans to become a police officer. Its too risky, she said. Too much danger.
Applications were distributed to public and Catholic schools, mosques, and community boards, said Sgt. Michael Parducci, Bronx borough supervisor. From the beginning of May to the June 15 deadline, about 1,000 students applied.
Each student received a $75 savings bond, transportation tokens and a free lunch. Children were divided according to age into companies. There were five or six companies per borough with about 25 children per company.
The program began July 8 and ran twice a week for five weeks in six locations around the city. It included visits to the New York City Police Museum and the FBIs field office in Manhattan as well as guest speakers consisting of U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents, Queens district attorneys and correction officers from Rikers Island.
©2002 Community News Group
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