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Junior police academy unites law enforcement, students

In her second year leading a junior police academy for students at Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School, Officer Leanne Fisher, who is also the school’s resource officer, has a major goal in mind.

“I want them to understand how cool police officers can be,’’ she said.

Students who attended the recently completed six-week program met weekly for two hours and explored a range of police-related topics. This year’s class looked at subjects such as Internet safety, gang awareness, defensive tactics and underage drinking. Students also learned the best way to act if they are pulled over by a police officer.

“We want to educate the kids about police work and help them build a relationship with police officers,’’ Officer Fisher said.

Based on responses from some of the academy students, Officer Fisher’s goal was realized.

“I got to see what it’s like when police officers have to defend themselves against an armed person,’’ said Rebecca Mentzer of New Bedford, a junior. “They have to protect civilians and themselves.’’

Ryan Beaudoin, a sophomore from New Bedford, hopes to become a police officer. He said the academy provided helpful information toward that goal.

“Police work is harder and has more challenges than I thought,’’ said Bryam Briales-Colon. “I wanted to learn more about what’s right and what’s wrong.’’

Alex Margison, a sophomore from New Bedford, plans to become a Marine and work as a military mechanic. “I loved the marching, the running, the physical training,’’ he said.

He said the academy was a fun experience and hopes to attend again next year.

For Officer Fisher, this represents an important chance to strengthen bonds between police and young people. “We need them to understand that we are out there to help people,’’ she said. “The police are there to protect and serve everyone and we hope the students recognize that.’’