“Another deep breath; don’t shoot when you’re breathing. Shoot on the exhale, when you are ready.”
With eyes on Tahlequah School Resource Officer Brian Stanglin, two dozen youngsters prepared to take hold of air rifles Wednesday morning. Boys and girls participating in the first class of Tahlequah Police Department’s Junior Police Academy are getting a first-hand, up-close-and-personal taste of what officers might encounter on the job.
According to Police Chief Nate King, this week’s schedule includes a visit with a local drug canine and a federal bomb-detecting dog; target shooting with pellet guns; other firearms training; custody and control physical activities, and more.
On Wednesday, school resource officers Stanglin, Chris Smith, Randy Jordan and Marcus Sams helped youth learn some of the basics of holding, aiming and firing a rifle at a target.
“This is a great group of guys with a lot of training,” King said of the school resource officers. “Some of them have military training.”
King said officers are teaching the importance of safety, first and foremost. He told the children – most of whom are middle-school age – that he hopes the program continues to grow after its inaugural summer.
“And we hope to see some of you in about eight to 10 years if you decide to go into law enforcement as a profession,” King told them.
Most of the kids aren’t new to using firearms, but they did find it more difficult than expected to hit the small targets.
Jaden Teague was one of several girls participating in the junior police academy Wednesday.
“It was kind of hard because the sights were so small,” Jaden said.
Stone Brewer is participating, with an eye on one day becoming a Marine.
“I’ve always wanted to be in the military or in a police force,” said Stone.
King hopes the academy piques the interest of youngsters, even if they aren’t necessarily considering a law enforcement career.
“Hopefully this will show them what we do for a living,” said King. “We want them to meet law enforcement representatives and learn that we aren’t the bad guys; we’re the good guys who are there to help when needed.”
Youngsters learn what it takes to be law enforcement officers
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