Sixth-graders here got an insider’s look at life in law enforcement through summer school training meant to motivate future deputies and let kids get to know peace officers as people.
The Waterford Unified School District partnered with the Waterford police office of the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department to put on the training June 27-28.
Sessions led by Waterford police Chief Mike Radford ran about two dozen kids through a police academy-style boot camp. The 10- to 12-year-olds ran laps, did pushups and dragged a 165-pound dummy for 10 yards. They had to run a 40-yard dash with a Kevlar vest in less than eight seconds, said Erin Harrison, Waterford director of after-school and summer programs.
On the second day, students met K-9 officer Dexo and checked out the Special Weapons and Tactics, or SWAT, vehicle and tried on some of the gear.
“It was an amazing two days that allowed the students to have a better understanding of what our law enforcement does for the community,” Harrison said. “(Radford) has patience and passion for teaching our kids that police contact is not always negative contact. They have a job, and it’s to keep the community safe.”
Among the young participants who got the message was Oscar Perez, who wrote to Radford afterward. “Thank you for letting me wear the police vest. That was really cool! I want to become a police officer some day,” his neatly handwritten letter says.
“Now I know that I have to be in good shape and how important math, reading, and writing is,” he wrote, finishing with “Thank you for protecting us. I hope to see you soon.”
Some 160 Waterford students in early kindergarten through sixth grade are taking part in the summer school session at Moon School that runs through July 6. Students work on reading and math, then take part in sports, crafts and science activities through the Stanislaus County Police Activities League. Summer swimming at the Empire Pool in Empire is included in the mix.