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Oklahoma City Student Police Academy gives teens a week 'they'll never forget'

The Oklahoma City Police Department hosted a weeklong summer camp to give area teens an inside look at law enforcement.
BY HANNAH COVINGTON and KYLE HINCHEY Published: June 21, 2013

Daugherty agrees. He said the police department hopes to expand the program to accommodate more teens and eventually add an advanced student academy for repeat participants.

“It's nice to know the teachers, counselors and people in our community are able to recognize our future leaders,” Daugherty said. “These are the kind of kids we want to introduce to law enforcement work, and what better way than with something like this.”

The police department holds two police academies for hired recruits per year. Each academy lasts seven months and trains 50 to 60 recruits. Even though more than 1,000 people apply for each cycle, the recruiting office is looking to attract higher quality applicants.

“It may sound good that 1,000 people applied, but there are not 1,000 stars in there,” said Lt. Gamille Hardin, recruiting office supervisor. “That's why we're so actively and strongly recruiting. We want the best applicants out there.”

Police aren't sure how many students from the camp will go into law enforcement, but Daugherty said he hopes most of them will consider doing so once they turn 21 and become eligible to apply.

As she petted tufts of tan fur off Titan, Harder said she may like to work with the canine unit. Or become a veterinarian. At this point, she's not decided either way.

Daugherty said he knows the camp still benefits those who don't end up becoming police officers.

“We talk about being on time, good work habits and what it takes to make team unity,” Daugherty said. “They're learning such great real-world character traits they can take to any profession.”

But for Plunkett, this week's experience has deepened his interest in law enforcement, especially in the SWAT team units. It's also corrected some misconceptions about police.

“With this sort of job you make a difference every single day you go out,” Plunkett said. “I can tell these people genuinely care about what they do. I have a lot more respect for them now.”