The Williamson County Sheriff’s Office will offer a summer camp for kids between 11 and 14-years-old to learn what deputies do each day.
"They'll be set into teams and they'll solve crimes,” said Williamson County Sheriff Lieutentnat Kelli Bomer.
Bomer is helping launch a new week long Junior Deputy Academy set to start July 18.
"We've been pretty much a crime fighters only agency, now we're working on being a little more progressive and getting out in the community,” said Bomer.
Through the program, the campers will learn self-defense techniques, CPR skills, how to gather evidence from a crime scene and get to tour the jail.
"They'll find out what it's like back there,” said Bomer.
They’ll also get a chance to check out the SWAT vehicles, including a hovercraft and jet-ski.
"They'll be out in the parking lot so they can climb on them, meet the guys in the SWAT team and, you know, ask them all kinds of questions,” said Bomer.
"It's a learning experience, it's fun, it's showing what our deputies are doing out on the streets,” said Sheriff Robert Chody. "It’s a real good program for young people to interact with law enforcement on a positive note and learn some of the trades that we do on a daily basis."
Chody said it's a good way to bring the community and law enforcement closer together.
"We want to show the children that we care, that we're human and this is an opportunity to see how tough the job really is at a young age,” said Chody.
"It’s good for our kids in our community to see that we are here for them, we are not someone we are afraid of, we are not the person to run from, we are here to help them,” said Bomer. "It's a way to get the kids comfortable with us, so they don't have to fear us."
Chody also said it will allow people to see that unlike TV, solving a crime usually takes longer than one hour.
"Too much TV gives a false impression what real police work is about,” said Chody. “This allows us the opportunity to reach the young people that there's some truth to the TV they see, there's a lot of fables in that as well.”
Janice Brown wants to enroll her six grandkids.
"I think it’s a wonderful idea,” said Brown. “I feel real good about it, it's something I would love for my grandkids, a career for my grandkids to get into.”
For Brown, it was a dream to be in law enforcement.
"I just think it’s a wonderful career, you get respect the first responder thing, helping people, I would just love for my grandkids to go into it,” said Brown. "I feel like once they get in they can find out what all they do how they investigate and how things happen and how everything is carried out, I think they would really like it.”
And that's just what Sheriff Chody hopes for, that the camp could serve as a recruitment tool.
“Maybe this is something they want to do in the future,” said Chody. "It gives them a positive contact with our deputies and allows them to move forward if that's a choice they decide to do."
Bomer said they’re already getting a lot of interest
"When I came into today I had five applications waiting for me,” said Bomer.
Drop off for the camp will start at 8:00 a.m. on July 18, pick up will be each day at 5:00 p.m. The camp ends on July 21 with a graduation ceremony at 4:00 p.m.
They are only taking 15 students on a first-come, first-serve basis, but hope to offer more camp sessions in the future.
The campers are urged to bring a lunch each day, with a refillable water bottle.
Applications are due July 13.
You can sign up for the class here.
The department also hopes to start an Explorers program in the next few months, for 13 to 20-year-olds. That will be a long term program that would allow teenagers to stay in the program for years. They’ll go through a 40-hour academy, wear uniforms and even get to go on a ride along with law enforcement.
Both of these programs are only for those who live in Williamson County.