Hardy said each day the students work together on individual pieces of an obstacle course that helps to teach them how to depend on one another and develop relationships with other young people they may not otherwise meet.
The challenges help them work together as a team, Hardy said.
At the end of the week the students will run the entire obstacle course with their squad, going through each individual task.
On Tuesday, the students walked through the Tennessee National Guard Counter Drug Task Forces drug awareness trailer that not only shows the students the ways of manufacturing drugs such as methamphetamine, but also the effects the drug has on its users.
Sgt. Maurice Box walked the students through the trailer, explaining how meth remains in the bodys liquid and solid waste and that meth users will often turn to urine and feces to get their meth high when they cannot afford the actual drug.
This stuff is gross, itll make you do things you dont normally do, thats how bad this drug is, Box said.
Students walk through the Tennessee National Guard Counter Drug Task Forces trailer that helps educate kids on how methamphetamine, marijuana and other drugs are made and the effects they have on the mind and body.
Box said hes going to be adding a new aspect to the trailer soon, one that shows the different kinds of synthetic drugs and the toll they can take on a persons body and mind. Local law enforcement has recently cracked down on the selling of synthetic drugs from area convenience stores in the past year.
The Youth Academy also teaches the students about law enforcement, civics and other aspects of the justice system.
On Thursday, were going to the Rutherford County Juvenile Detention Center as a field trip, Hardy noted.
There the students will not only tour the facility, but also learn about the Department of Corrections, counseling and rehabilitation. Today, the students will learn about evidence collection at a crime scene, how to properly identify it, recover it and catalog what is collected.
On Friday, Hardy said they would put those skills to use as each squad will go through a mock crime scene and have to recover the evidence, properly secure it and piece the evidence together.
Hardy said many of the students participating have an interest in pursuing a career in law enforcement, and the academy helps to expose them to the many career opportunities within the field.
He said many of the students are computer savvy and want to find a career that allows them to utilize those skills. He pointed out there is a large demand for those computer skills in law enforcement as online crimes become more prevalent.
This program really is an eye-opener, Hardy said. It goes beyond the law aspect.
Hardy felt the first youth academy has been a big success and said LPD Chief Scott Bowen is planning to continue the program into the future.
Chief is already committed to doing more this summer, Hardy said. About whether they continue the academy indefinitely, Hardy said, I hope.
Staff Writer Patrick Hall may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.