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11-year olds attend law enforcement academy
participants experience police work firsthand
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Forsyth County News

Brody Nelson has never arrested anyone, but he wants to.

The 11-year-old wants to be just like his dad, Deputy Mike Nelson, a motorcycle officer.

“He’s just brave,” Brody said. “He defends his county, and I like that.”

This week Brody is learning exactly what his dad does every day while taking part in the Junior Law Enforcement Academy with about 50 other children his age.
“I like it,” Brody said. “It’s fun and energetic.”

The rising sixth graders participating in the 5-day program taking place at Otwell Middle School through Friday, were hand-picked by school counselors and teachers, who looked for well-behaved children with good grades and an interest in law enforcement.

The camp provides the kids with a day full of activities simulating police work, such as a crime scene investigation, traffic stop and target practice, all supervised by deputies. The week of programs even includes one day on which law enforcement agencies such as the fire department, the SWAT unit, the Emory flight team and the Georgia State Patrol show off their equipment.

“My favorite part is acting like a cop,” said Hunter Barron, an 11-year-old participant.

Courtney Spriggs, the public information officer of the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, said the goal of the camp is to give an accurate depiction of what law enforcement agencies do.

“It’s important because lots of them watch a lot of TV, which is completely incorrect about what law enforcement is,” Spriggs said.

Brody is looking forward to making a traffic stop, the activity his dad is teaching, in which the kids will drive golf carts and stop and question pretend law breakers. The campers take part in acting opportunities, arresting their fellow campers and leaders, but they also spend time learning about the laws they’re “enforcing.”

Topics of the lessons include constitutional law, probable cause and report writing.

Spriggs said she thinks the bonds formed by the deputies and campers through the activities will last far beyond this week.

“I hope that they think back to the people they met here and make better choices,” she said.

Past participants in the Junior Law Enforcement Academy, which has been going for four years, have returned to be leaders.

The group of kids is about half boys and half girls. After attending camp all week they will graduate graduate with a certificate at the end and perhaps even earn an award. Special awards are given to best overall performers as “Top Junior Deputies,” the best shooter, the best driver and the best crime scene investigator.