After three-year hiatus, Irondequoit Teen Police Academy is back

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IRONDEQUOIT, N.Y. — It might take a few years, but the Irondequoit Police Department may have a solution for the ongoing police shortage.

The IPD has brought back their Teen Police Academy, after going on hiatus in 2020. The kids have spent the past week shadowing officers and learning the ins-and-outs of law enforcement.

They’ve covered everything from the Coast Guard, to SWAT training, to IPD’s crime labs.

“I’ve always had an interest in law enforcement, my mom is a probation officer, and I wanted to see what it was like with the Teen Police Academy,” 16-yaer-old Isabella Martinez said. “It’s very educational. So it’s like school, but more fun.”

Thursday, the group of six tackled Narcan and tourniquet training, and tested out some guns at the firing range.

At the Narcan training session, each kid walked away with an overdose rescue kit. The kit contained two doses of Narcan — a life-saving drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. The Narcan is administered via a nasal spray, and is a simple process to use. The training included the dangers of overdosing for first responders — taught mostly with the story of an officer in California who overdosed when he touched another overdosing individual.

Fifteen-year-old Bernard Inoalmedina said that was tough to see.

“I’m not going to lie, [it made me feel] scared, cause as soon you’re exposed to it, you can lose your life,” Inoalmedina said.

The kids spent the other half of their day shooting some firearms. Each kid was paired off with an officer and spent about an hour practicing form, reiterating gun safety, and working on their aim. Of course, this came after Wednesday’s lesson in gun safety and judgement training.

“When to shoot, who to shoot, and then we gave a reason why, and then we talked about it a little bit,” 18-year-old Maddie Pratt said. “When you’re really engulfed in what’s going on — it’s like, wow, there’s a lot to think about.”

This fall, Pratt is headed to St. John Fisher to study criminology. After that, she hopes to become an officer.

“It’s something I really want to do to help the community and keep people safe,” Pratt said.

IPD Chief Scott Peters said he was excited to bring the program back.

“It was one of those things that when I was hired the town supervisor said I’d really like to get the teen academy back, I said ‘Absolutely, we can do that,’” he said.

Peters said he enjoys that the kids get to meet not only kids from different schools, but also get to know some of the local police officers.

“[It] gives them a chance to see us as a human being,” he said. “It’s great to actually get the kids involved and actually have them kind of take a look at our job and see parts of the job that you don’t normally see on a show like cops or anything else.”

The program concludes with a graduation ceremony on Friday.