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Students Learn Key Skills at Junior Police Academy

Students in safety equipment stand in front of a fire truck.

Students from across the region were able to explore careers as first-responders and gain critical skills as they took part in the Lancaster High School Junior Police Academy.

“We like to show them all of the areas of being a first responder, so they can see the work and the coordination of putting everything together,” said Stacy Maute, the school resource officer at Lancaster High School who coordinates the two-week experience. “We need good people, so it’s great to see the interest in entering the field.”

During their time in the program, students were able to meet with a wide range of law enforcement, fire department and medical personnel. The academy students were then able to apply their classroom training by participating in authentic scenarios that these agencies work through on a daily basis.

“That’s where the classroom material comes to life,” said Andrew Wargo, an EMS captain for the Twin District Volunteer Fire Company, which was one of the presenters for academy students. “When we put them in a challenging environment, that’s when we see them perform.”

Approximately 20 students from grades 10-12 were a part of this year’s academy, organized in a collaboration between the high school and Lancaster Police Department, and facilitated by Officer Maute along with fellow school resource officers William Loewer and John Zimmerman. Joining the Lancaster students for this year’s academy were enrollees from Williamsville, Maryvale, Alden and Clarence. Lancaster students are able to combine the academy experience with a four-week forensics class about the science of police work to earn themselves a science credit. Officer Maute said that though the program is designed for students interested in pursuing careers as first responders, many of the skills taught in the academy, including CPR, have applications in many emergency situations.

“We’re trying to prepare them and give them some awareness,” she said.

During the visit on July 19 by the Twin District Volunteer Fire Company, students had a chance to tour one of the company’s fire vehicles and see the equipment available to help with their responses.  Madison Korman, a junior at Williamsville East High School, tried on a fire suit worn by the department’s members, and said the suit was much warmer and heavier than she expected. Madison said she signed up for the academy because of her interest in working in law enforcement, and that she enjoyed meeting people already working in the field.

“It’s possible for me to do anything,” she said.

One student with some past experience, like Lancaster High School sophomore Jordan Ferraro, said the classes helped reinforce his passion for the field. For the last two years, Jordan has been a part of the junior firefighter program with the Lancaster Fire Department.
“This gives me even more of a push that I really want to join this field,” Jordan said. “It’s really inspiring.”

Students completing the two week program were presented certificates by Lancaster Police Captain Jeffrey Smith during a ceremony on July 21.


A student puts on fire safety equipment

Students apply a tourniquet during a training scenario.

Students listen during a training session about moving people with injuries.