Tuesday, April 10, 2001

Eighth-graders learn police techniques

By Jaclyn Giovis
Enquirer Contributor

        GOSHEN TOWNSHIP — Nineteen Goshen eighth-graders can “work” a crime scene, identify counterfeit money and administer CPR.

        The Spaulding Middle School students are the first class of Junior Police Academy cadets in Ohio.

        JPA is a national, nonprofit organization that aims to teach students strong values by bringing the world of law enforcement into their classrooms.

        “It teaches us, more than anything, about respect,” said Jordan Keen, 14, of Goshen.

        The Goshen academy was a joint effort between Goshen Local Schools and the Goshen Township Police Department to subscribe to the Texas-based JPA curriculum.

        “The Junior Police Academy has been an opportunity to bring the students and the community together,” said Principal Mike Miller. “It is one of the best things that has ever happened to Spaulding Middle School.”

        The program is headed by Goshen Police Officer James Taylor, the school's resource officer, and takes the place of a study hall.

        Students involved in the program were selected from a pool of 80 applicants. As cadets, they are expected to be drug-free and maintain good academic standing in school.

        Upon completion of the academy, students will receive a grade for participation, but no academic credit.

        The program was aimed to educate kids at an age when they make the choice to be troublemakers or good citizens, Officer Taylor said.

        “I used to hate school,” said Christina Parsons, 15. “But ever since I've been in this class, I've had perfect attendance.

        “It's changed my whole perspective of schooling. I brought my grades up to A's and B's, just so I could stay in the program.”

        Officer Taylor said he tries to teach his cadets about the laws that apply to them most — those dealing with marijuana, alcohol and telephone harassment.

        The JPA curriculum approaches police work from different angles, allowing cadets to gain local and national perspectives of police history and procedure.

        Officer Taylor modified the curriculum, however, by bringing in experts from the field to speak, and using a more hands-on approach, such as demonstrating fingerprinting and showing CPR techniques.

        The program costs about $600 per school, and includes a teaching manual, student resource books and instructional videos. For more information, call the Goshen Police Department at 722-3200.


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