South Jersey Youth Tackle Junior Police Academy

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Some South Jersey students between the ages of 10 and 16 years old are learning the ins and outs of being a police officer.

“They get a tour of the police station, they learn about what we do on a daily basis,” said Ptl. John McHugh, lead physical training instructor at the Gloucester Township Junior Police Academy. 

Once they complete their “beginners training” at the Academy, the students go back for round two: physical fitness.

“This is a 10th of what we did in the Police Academy, but we bring them out here,” said McHugh. “That’s a big part of being a police officer, you’ve got to stay physically fit and you’ve got to enjoy yourself.”

“They run, they do pushups, they do sit ups, they do everything,” he continued. “We yell at them, we get them motivated, but we do it in a fun way. We try to [let] them have a good time.”

The camp runs four times throughout the summer, giving South Jersey area students a chance to meet the men and women behind the badges.

“They’re just really nice people, and once you get to know them, and like, once you meet them, they’re not as scary as they look when they’re in their uniform,” said Emily McGinny, 11, attending the Academy.

While the kids learn a little bit about what it takes to be a police officer, they make some friends in blue along the way.

“They’re all funny and they’re nice, and it’s cool to see them,” said Michael Dicamillo, 13, who’s attending the camp.

“All the officers are very nice,” said Eric Ramos, 11, who said he's enjoyed his time at the Junior Police Academy.

Although the campers are still a bit young to enroll in the real police academy, the hands-on experience could be the beginning of shaping our future officers.

“We always ask them: 'who wants to do a career in law enforcement?' [and] we get a lot of hands raised. We get a lot of repeat kids that come back to this academy,” said McHugh.

But until it’s time for the real academy, they’ll be training with their mentors.

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