Cop some learning

Students engage in hands-on activities at Student Police Academy


Courtesy of Canyon Police Department

Freshman Diego Hernandez aims a gun with liaison officer Daniel Roach during a mock felony stop.

Engaging in car chases.

Shooting a rifle.

Analyzing a crime scene.

Dusting for fingerprints.

Completing an obstacle course.

Being a police officer.

A group of students spent a week learning several duties of police officers at the Student Police Academy this summer, performing multiple training exercises and tasks under the guidance of Canyon Police Department officers.

“It was a lot of fun,” junior Liberty Roberts said. “There was a schedule because we had so much that we did, but it wasn’t intense or anything. That’s the main thing–we just wanted to have fun.”

That’s the main thing–we just wanted to have fun.

— Liberty Roberts, 11

The camp began with attendees running the agility course used by officers, which involved completing a series of physical tasks including carrying a 50-pound weight up and down stairs, dragging a 140-pound dummy 10 feet, running a quarter mile and other tasks in under three and a half minutes.

“Nobody has to do it by themselves,” liaison officer Daniel Roach said. “They break into teams, and they do our obstacle course at Southeast Park. It’s just for fun so the kids understand what we had to do to become a police officer here at Canyon.”

Students also learned how to shoot guns at a range.

“I didn’t think shooting a shotgun would be that hard, and I didn’t know a shotgun had a kickback to it,” freshman Jeff McDonald said. “When I put it up against my shoulder, I shot it, and the shotgun flew out of my hand. I hit the target, though.”

We learned how to do a hostile situation. They had to put their hands out of the car, and we had our guns pointed at them and had to check the car.

— Jeff McDonald, 9

As a patrolman, Roach took several students on traffic stops as well.

“We had a traffic stop, and he taught us what certain parts mean, like how they put in the license plate and how it brings up the information,” McDonald said. “We learned how to do a hostile situation. They had to put their hands out of the car, and we had our guns pointed at them and had to check the car.”

For one section, the officers threw a stun grenade, or flashbang, into a room near attendees.

“They took us to an abandoned workshop, and they put us in this little room,” McDonald said. “They had a flashbang, and they threw it into a room. We weren’t in that room, but you could still feel it. It was very loud and very bright.”

Roach said although those attending do not learn everything about law enforcement, they learn a little bit about what police officers do.

“In a week’s time, we know we can’t teach the kids everything we do,” Roach said. “But we can take the most fun activities and implement them into a class and let the kids have fun with it.”

Roberts said before attending the academy, she did not know Roach.

“Throughout the whole thing, I got to know more of him, and he’s a really inspirational person,” Roberts said. “I look up to him a lot. He’s in charge of protecting the school, and he really loves his job, and he’s passionate about it. He’s an admirable guy.”

McDonald said if his hopeful career in athletics does not work out, he would like to become a police officer.

“My dad used to be a police officer,” McDonald said. “During practice, one of the guns malfunctioned and got him in his thigh, so now he’s a welder. I want to live through his journey.”

Roberts said despite some negative attitudes toward police officers, she aspires to achieve the position.

“That’s part of your job,” Roberts said. “Nobody’s ever liked cops a whole lot at all because you’re the one who makes them follow the law that they don’t always want to follow. I can’t think of anything better.”