Annual academy helps kids understand law enforcement

The 2021 Kids Law Enforcement Academy, a two-day program designed for kids in the fifth to seventh grades, will run July 28-30 at Lifegate Church, located at 501 Permian Way, Villa Rica.

Two local law agencies have again partnered up to teach kids the basics of law enforcement.

The 2021 Kids Law Enforcement Academy, a two-day program designed for kids in the 5th to 7th grades, will run July 28-30 at Lifegate Church, located at 501 Permian Way, Villa Rica. Each day’s event will begin at 9 a.m. and conclude at 3 p.m.

The academy is the product of a partnership between Douglas County Sheriff Tim Pounds and Villa Rica Police Chief Michael Mansour, who wanted to develop a program for young people that was similar to the already successful Citizens Academy, which is a community program founded in 2004 that allows local residents to learn about police work. The goal is to raise awareness of law enforcement’s duties and role in the community.

Attendees must be a resident of the City of Villa Rica, (Carroll or Douglas side) or Douglas County, and have not attended the academy in the past three years.

The program was originally known as the Youth Police Academy and was first held in 2012, covering such topics as bullying, drugs and alcohol, cyber safety, and gun safety.

“The first youth academy was held at the Villa Rica Police Department and had about 25 kids in attendance,” said Villa Rica Sergeant Michelle Moore. “The academy was so successful we moved to the V-Plex, which is a much larger facility for the 2013 academy.”

According to Moore, the academy has been growing since it started. It got to the point that the police department had to create a waitlist for some of the children due to limited funds and staff.

“The 2013 academy slots quickly filled up and we had a waiting list to get in,” said Moore. “We would have loved to accommodate as many kids that wanted to participate but had limited funds and staff.

“That is when we had to make the hard decision to not allow these same kids to sign up for a third year. We did, however, allow those kids who had attended previously to apply, but held their applications until the deadline.”

Although the academy continues to be a success each year, its organizers still have plans for expansion. Each year, they have been able to grow the program and include other aspects. These include health and wellness, taught by Tanner Medical Center; fire safety by Douglas County Fire Department; Life Flight, taught by the Georgia State Patrol helicopter unit; the Reptile Wrangler, and much more.

Moore said that in 2018, the VR police department asked the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office if they would like to join the program, and they agreed.

“Sheriff Tim Pounds immediately said yes, and the launch of a bigger and better program emerged,” said Moore. “With the combined efforts of the VR Police Department and Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, we were able to extend the program to five full days and even provide lunch. This year, due to the pandemic, the program was shortened to two days.

“The program prior to that was only four and a half days that ended with a cookout and graduation ceremony on the last day.”

For the comfort and safety of the children, parents and/or guardians will not be allowed to be present during the academy. However, a special graduation ceremony will be held on Friday, July 30 that is open for the parents and/or guardians.

Applications will be available soon at the Villa Rica Police Department and Douglas Sheriff’s Office and must be submitted to either agency no later than Saturday, July 17.