Hermitage Youth Justice Academy offers taste of careers in law enforcement

Apr. 23—HERMITAGE — For local youths interested in a career in the legal system or law enforcement, the Hermitage Police Department's Youth Justice Academy will be returning for the third year this summer.

The academy, organized by Community Engagement Officer Sammy Staples, gives area high school students a chance to learn about the criminal justice system through a series of guest speakers — including police officers, attorneys, judges and probation officers.

The subject matter will range from the Constitution to the justice system and the juvenile justice system, Staples said.

This year's academy will be a seven-week program held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays, beginning June 12 and ending July 24. The academy will be held in the Training and Workforce Development Center, 3050 Prosperity Place, Hermitage.

"For the first two programs, we've gotten really good feedback and we've had a mix of students, from sophomores through seniors, and a couple students who just graduated and were going to college," Staples said.

Staples said the guest speakers include local officials who enjoyed participating in previous academies, and that organizers hope to draw about 25 to 30 students this summer.

Last year's program had about 18 students, although there were usually 12 to 13 students present at any given meeting due to scheduling conflicts.

Those who did attend were always invested in the academy's subject matter and engaged with the speakers, Staples said.

"They were very focused," Staples said of the students. "There was a lot of note-taking and a lot of great questions being asked, which was really cool."

The Youth Justice Academy is free to any who would like to participate.

Participants can pick up registration forms at the Hermitage Police Department at 800 N. Hermitage Road, Hermitage. Potential attendees can also email Staples at sstaples@hermitage.net or call the department at 724-983-6780 and ask for Staples.

"We'd like to have an idea of what the attendance is going to be beforehand, but if someone shows up that first day and fills out a form there, we can do that if need be," Staples said.

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