By Camryn Ginsberg
Meridian Times staff writer
OKEMOS — The Meridian Township Police Department began its sixth session on Feb. 9 by hosting the Youth Citizens’ Police Academy for high school students.
Lt. Greg Frenger, who started as a police officer dispatcher in Rochester in 1992, runs this interactive program at the Public Safety Building providing students with in-depth information on police work.
Over this 7-week program, students partake in police-related activities, such as crime-scene investigation.
“Most of them really enjoy the CSI part. I burst their bubble and let them know that it’s not all done in 30 minutes and we’re not all drop-dead gorgeous police officers,” –Lt. Greg Frenger.
The Youth Citizens’ Police Academy allows students to see if law enforcement is a career they want to pursue. Students receive a behind-the-scenes tour of the facility and get hands-on opportunities with a Firearms Training Simulator. Most importantly, students build a bond with the officers.
“The whole premise behind this is that we connect with young people in the community to have better relationships in general. It helps foster a continued dialogue between kids and the police,” said Frenger.
Shana Dey, 26, participated in the program in 2006 as a senior at Haslett High School.
“I found it really fascinating to see how the police station worked. I got a better idea of what police officers do on a daily basis,” said Dey.
After taking a forensics class in high school and completing the Youth Citizens’ Police Academy, Dey found a new interest in forensic anthropology.
“I got a much better idea of the process of forensics through working with fingerprints and tire impressions,” said Dey. “I would recommend this program to high school students who find these kinds of things fascinating.”
The academy’s main objective is to build trust between the kids of the community and the police.
“I definitely think it’s a good program because it gives the students an inside view of how the police department works. It teaches the kids why we do what we do,” said Chuck Lieblich, a police cadet in Meridian Township.With the help of other agencies, such as the Michigan State Police Department, Meridian Township can provide this opportunity to more than a dozen students.