Cadets get taste at law enforcement careers in Georgetown

Town of Georgetown Police chief R.L. Hughes introduces Capt. Ralph Holm as he speaks to the several dozen youths taking on the challenge of the Georgetown Junior Police Academy. (Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe)

GEORGETOWN — Perhaps 10, 15 or seven years into the future, some of this year’s Georgetown Police Department’s Junior Police Academy cadets might be candidates for law enforcement.

“Now is the time for them to start thinking about some of their actions and the decisions they’ll make, how that will impact them later on,” said Georgetown Police Chief R.L. Chief Hughes. “We find it in a way to be a bit of a recruiting tool. Yes, we are recruiting early because you have to be at least 21. But now is the time to start making some good decisions because decisions that you make know will affect your future.”

The academy, which began July 8 and concludes with graduation Tuesday, July 16, offers youths ages 12 to 14 a taste of law enforcement, boot camp, physical endurance, mental toughness and discipline intertwined with education and some free-time fun activities.

Ruth Ann Spicer, with grand-daughter Aubrey Spicer at left, addresses members of Georgetown Police. Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe)

“Georgetown Police Department Junior Academy is about giving young people an opportunity to explore law enforcement and criminal justice. Joey Melvin, our School Resource Officer, throughout the year he identifies some folks who may be interested, and also puts out an application,” said Chief Hughes. “They have to do an essay to get in. It’s a process for them. They have to want to do this.”

This year, 31 youth signed up for the academy,

As of the academy’s four-day mark, there were no quitters.

Fourteen-year-old Sydney Clendaniel, who attended Georgetown Middle School but will be moving to Towson, Maryland, for high school, plans to “breeze” into graduation as an academy rookie.

“I have always wanted to do like Navy or Air Force, or someday go to the Naval Academy. Officer Melvin, I see him every day, he’s cool; he encouraged me a lot to join,” Sydney said. “I’m good with discipline and I do track and basketball. So, it’s not that hard for me. The thing is when we do like lineup and formation, I like to smile a lot. I’m a big ‘smiler.’ So, I have to keep my composure. It’s hard sometimes but I get through it.”

Another rookie cadet, 12-year-old Justin Glasco, sought the physical challenge.

“It’s gone pretty good. I was really into it because of all the physical fitness,” said Justin, an incoming Georgetown Middle School seventh grader.

Come the evening of July 16, Georgetown Police Department’s 4th Junior Police Academy will come full circle with graduation.

On the first day, the rigorous challenge began with an initial fitness test: a brisk tun from Georgetown Middle School — home base for the academy — to The Circle in the heart of Georgetown.

Several speakers welcomed cadets to the academy.

“I am so proud of all of you for going out for the academy. I think it’s a wonderful experience,” said Ruth Ann Spicer, speaking to the gathering near the monument honoring her son, Chad Spicer, a Georgetown Police Department patrolman who was shot and killed in the line of duty in September 2009. “I think that you will enjoy every minute of it.”

Ms. Spicer, accompanied by Aubrey Spicer, Ms. Spicer’s granddaughter and Chad’s daughter, said, “Chad enjoyed all the police work that he did. He loved each and every day of it,” said Ms. Spicer. “I know there is a lot of running; and at first he (Chad) hated the running, too. But he got used to it. It’s all about respect, and honor and taking care of one another and taking care of all the citizens.”

Aubrey Spicer handed out special black and blue bracelets to academy participants. The bracelets were made by a Delaware Department of Corrections officer, according to Det. Melvin.

“So, as we go through this week, when it sucks, when it’s hard, when you’re tired and you want to give up, let that be a symbol to you … why we are doing this,” Det. Melvin said.

In between opening day and graduation, structured daily itineraries featured numerous drills, fitness/endurance tests, informative presentations and demonstrations and guest speakers along with some entertainment, including movie time.

Opening day’s special guest was Remi Adeleke, a retired Navy Seal and author “Transformed.” Opening day included a fitness test with the National Guard.

Thursday, cadets got to experience first-hand — and in a couple cases, an entire arm — a part of law enforcement that truly can take a bite out of crime.

Police K-9 demonstrations were provided by Delaware Capitol Police Senior Cpl. Jesse Silva and his canine Ary, and Delaware State Police Cpl. John Wilson and his K-9 partner, Fifo.

Several brave cadets put on the protective arm padding as the “bad guys” for K-9 demonstrations.

This week also featured yoga, evidence collection, Delaware State Police Aviation Unit, Beau Biden Foundation, Delaware State Fire School, D.A.T.E. (Drug, Alcohol, and Tobacco Education), Del-One, DNREC, history of policing, grappling/defensive tactics, Dover Police Department SORT (Special Operations Response Team), Probation and Parole and boot camp.

Special guests/presenters included Brian Murphy (survivor of Wisconsin Sikh Temple shooting), Jane Brady (the first woman to serve as attorney general of Delaware) and current Attorney General Kathy Jennings.

“Joey Melvin has done a nice job with this. There is a lot of good stuff lined up,” said Georgetown Police Chief R.L. Hughes. “We have multiple police departments that come in and help out throughout the six days of the academy.”

Academy cadets are mostly kids from Georgetown Middle School as well as Sussex Academy of Arts and Sciences. They hail from Georgetown, Seaford, Bridgeville and Millsboro areas.

“Another piece about this is the diversity of our group. It’s a very diverse group; young men, young women, people of different ethnic backgrounds coming together,” said Chief Hughes. “It really represents our community well and also gives us an opportunity in law enforcement of having our young people to explore a little about law enforcement, so that perhaps they will become interested in a career in law enforcement, or in the criminal justice system.”

Academy cadets were indoctrination to courtesy honor/respect titles of “Sir” and Ma’am” before they jogged into The Circle.

Chief Hughes reminded cadets that they “represent the Georgetown Police Department.”

“This is your first step. I am really happy and proud of all of you,” the chief said. “And I will even be prouder when you graduate, and I get to hand you your certificate.”

Graduation is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 16.

Academy sponsors

Academy sponsors include: Browseabout Books; Chad Spicer Foundation; County Seat Cruisers; Del-One Bank; Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 2; Gondal 786 Corp; Mrs. Hutchison; Richard and Lynda Messick; Savoy Graphics; Schagrin Gas; Servpro; U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary; Wal-Mart; Harvey Hanna and Associates; Brent Marsh and Arena’s Deli.

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