Annual Academy Could Spark Interest in Law Enforcement - KHGI-TV/KWNB-TV/KHGI-CD-Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings

Annual Academy Could Spark Interest in Law Enforcement

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For decades, Nebraska teens have been going to the state's Law Enforcement Training Center for the Junior Law Academy.

The program may be becoming more important than ever to the Nebraska State Patrol as interest in joining the agency dwindles.

Wednesday, cadets from across the state were racing around a track in patrol cars with lights on and the siren blaring.

"It's really fun," said Brittany Lucas, of Firth.

Along with shooting and physical fitness, the driving course is just one of the experiences more than 30 cadets are having.

"Basically everything that our recruits deal with they deal with as well," said Trooper Cody Paro.

For Lucas, getting behind the wheel may be a thrill, but she's more interested in working behind the scenes, possibly in a forensics lab.

"We got to actually dust for finger prints and we got to print each other," she said. "It gave me a little insight, which was really nice."

With applicants for the Nebraska State Patrol drastically down, troopers say the academy is just another way to spark interest in the profession.

"At our last few [training] camps we've actually had people who have come through the Junior Law program and later come back," said Paro.

Although Lucas said she already had an interest in law enforcement, she thinks the academy could sway other cadets into the profession.

"They really just open doors to everything and let you try," she said.

An internal study reported earlier this year suggests the patrol needs to hire more troopers despite applicants being down.

The Junior Law program started in Nebraska 47 years ago. Since, it's been used as a model for other states.
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