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Junior academy leaves kids wide-eyed

Hartselle police officers Chad Guest, left, and Lt. James Holloway use cadets Will Grammer, left, and Gunter Wiggins to demonstrate swat team equipment. | Clif Knight

The life of a police officer was mirrored in the wide-open eyes of over 50 Hartselle youngsters on Friday as they participated in a junior police academy at Sparkman Civic Center.

Co-sponsored by Hartselle Police Department and Hartselle Parks & Recreation Department, the two-hour academy gave the kids a bird’s eye view of what rookie cops go through at the police academy as well as their one-the-job performance, which is geared to keeping the public safe from harm.

Police officer Chad Guest, who serves as school resource officer at Hartselle Junior High School, conducted the academy with the assistance of Lt. James Holloway.

The junior cadets, ranging in age from three through 12, repeated the police officer’s oath of office and were declared to be bona fide junior police officers by order of Capt. Tom Sparks, head of the department’s investigation division.

Physical training followed in the main gym with each cadet being required to demonstrate their strength and stamina by doing pushups, sit-ups and running. Later, they tested fatal vision goggles to simulate the loss of body control when under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

In a classroom setting, Guest demonstrated the equipment and clothing a police officer uses in the performance of his job, including firearms, stun gun, baton, radio, handcuffs, flashlight, pepper spray and bullet-proof vest. Combined, it weighs approximately 20 pounds, he pointed out.

Equipment used by a swat team was also demonstrated with the assistance of two cadets, Will Grammer and Gunter Wiggins. Each was outfitted with a bulletproof shield and vest, assault rifle, helmet and gas mask.

The academy concluded with Guest demonstrating a police patrol car, complete with flashing lights and a blaring siren.

“The kids were attentive and well-behaved,” Holloway said. “They’ll remember what they saw demonstrated today for a long time. It may even lead to some of them choosing law enforcement as a career.”

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