Student police academy members got to learn how to drive old police cars. (Delta Police Department photos)

Delta Student Police Academy a ‘once in a lifetime experience’ for teens

The 24 students got a chance to see inside the world of a Delta police officer

North Delta’s Asha Basi was nervous as she stood on stage alongside 23 other teens in Delta Police-issued uniforms.

The youth were graduating from the DPD’s student police academy, an eight-day course that aims to give students a chance to see what a career in policing might really be like. At the July 12 ceremony, they stood on stage in front of family and friends, ready to be inspected by Delta police chief Neil Dubord.

It was nerve-wracking, 18-year-old Basi said, but “we were all in the same boat.”

That sense of companionship and teamwork was one of the big takeaways for the program’s dozen participants.

“I found it fairly surprising how fast everyone was able to bond together,” said Riley Calci, a Burnsview student and valedictorian for the 2018 police academy class. “First day it was kind of tense and all that, but second day everyone was laughing and getting along.”

Const. Mike Atkinson, a school liaison officer with the the Delta Police Department and one of the organizers of the police academy, agreed.

“You can really see the change over the eight days as far as their confidence levels and their ability to work effectively as part of a bigger group or team,” he said.

Calci had the opportunity to experience the depth of the group’s bond perhaps more than any other person in the group. Part way through the program, her grandmother ended up in the hospital on life support.

“I let the people in police academy know, and they were all there for me,” he said. “Every couple of minutes they’d come and ask how I was doing for if I needed anything. Someone of them called me. One person came to visit actually.”

Over the course of the eight days, the students came together as they learned to drive police cars, handle guns, run the police officers’ physical abilities test and climb high ropes. The teens also participated in classroom learning, where they were introduced to different styles of policing.

For Basi, who had signed up for the program because she was interested in possibly becoming a police officer herself, it was an eye opener.

“Before I went into the academy, I thought being a police officer would be a piece of cake, but it really isn’t,” she said.

During the program, Basi heard stories from Delta police officers about situations they had been in on the job: one woman was dragged by a car, and had also been punched in the face.

“I didn’t think it would be that bad,” Basi said.

But learning from the officers and experiencing some of the academy training has only made her more interested in a career in policing.

“[People] may have an idea in their head of what policing is like, but once they actually do this program, it teaches them so much more,” she said. “It’s honestly such an enriching experience to see what the people who protect our community go through.”

For Atkinson, that’s one of the academy’s goals.

“For some of them it will solidify that they are interested in a career in law enforcement and it will help map out some of the next steps to take,” he said. “For others, they may get a taste of it and say, ‘You know what, that’s not really what I thought policing was about.’”

“Either way, it’s a win-win,” he continued. “We get to connect with the youths in our community. They get an idea, a taste of a career that hopefully they pursue.”

For Calci, who is also now more interested in pursuing a career as a police officer, the academy was “a whole different type of experience.”

“In my valedictory speech I said it’s a once in a lifetime experience, and it truly is,” he said.

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The Delta student police academy saw 24 teens go through its program this year. (Delta Police Department photo)

Student police academy members get some physical training. (Delta Police Department photo)

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