OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The La Vista Police Department is launching its first Youth Police Academy (YPA) in July. The goal of the program is to give young kids a real-life glimpse into the day-to-day responsibilities of law enforcement.
Ofc. Dana Miller, a community relations officer with LVPD, is leading the effort. The format for the academy will be like ones the Papillion Police Department and Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office do in the summer.
“We’re doing a bunch of different kinds of activities that all gear around law enforcement to educate the youth and show them what police do day to day,” says Miller. “Who knows, maybe some stuff may interest them if down the line they want to pursue a career in law enforcement.”
The camp will be hosted July 19-22 at LVPD headquarters and is free to La Vista residents ages 12-14.
The participants will get free breakfast, lunch, snacks, and the different classes will be in blocks.
“We'll have a block just solely focused on K-9s, SWAT team, forensics. We're doing a TAC-MED, first aid class, all different types. We're having a vehicle day where we're going to have Sarpy County there with their boats and their vehicles. State Patrol is going to be there with their safety belt,” adds Miller.
The YPA will also focus on leadership and teamwork games. They’ll also be taught how to be a good eyewitness and test their memory.
“We're also going to show them how to interact with an officer out in the public and how to interact with them in a traffic stop. Yes, they're a little young and they're not driving yet, but maybe if we catch them when they're a little young they'll understand when they turn 16 because it can be quite nerve-racking on your first stop when you're 16 years old,” said Miller.
Miller hopes the program will grow after its launch and that kids walk away having a different perspective.
She adds, “We understand that we're being seen in a negative light right now, but if you just get to know us, and get to know the job that we do every day, and the services that we do every day that we enjoy, and how we're just trying to help and interact with the community that maybe that will change their perception because unfortunately due to social media and so forth, all they're ever really seeing is the negative and it's time that they maybe see firsthand the positive of law enforcement.”