Popular junior cadets class swells to 300

By Anthony F. Irwin

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More than 300 kids, ages 9-12, gathered Sunday at Betsy Ross Elementary School for what represents a reward for their hard work in the 14-week Junior Cadet program.

The program pairs the police department with six local schools to teach discipline, respect and responsibility. Officials estimate the split to be around 60%-40% of at risk students vs. those interested in careers in law enforcement or military.

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This class was the largest ever, more than double the enrollment rate of the winter session.

“The program is just phenomenal,” said Officer Jake Gallacher. “I’ve been working with them for nine months now and had no idea the impact we would have on these kids.  Once they graduate, they will return to their respective schools as role models and further the progress we’ve already made.”

On Sunday, the cadets took part in an obstacle course race, physical agility testing and SWAT lessons.  They were also treated to an exhibition by the mounted team and were introduced to the K-9 squad.

After a short break, they gathered on the playing field to see “Angel” – APD’s larger helicopter – in action.  Once it was safe to approach, platoons made their way to more closely inspect the helicopter and were given a lesson on being a pilot by Officers Ty Hagenson and Josh Blackburn.

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One junior cadet could not contain himself as he made his way from Angel.  “This is the best day of my life!” he said.

After that excitement, the students reassembled to receive their invitations to graduation.  The ceremony will take place June 13 at the Anaheim Convention Center.

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