Saturday, September 3, 2011

33 area youth graduate from Commerce City’s inaugural Police Camp

Campers learn how to conduct searches, take fingerprints

COMMERCE CITY, COLO. – A total of 33 youth graduated recently from Commerce City’s first Police Camp, held this summer in the foothills above Fort Collins.

Platoon B leader Peyton Smith dusts for fingerprints at a mock crime scene, one of the activities campers participated in during Commerce City’s inaugural Police Camp this summer.

The three-day, two-night camp was organized by city recreation and police staff and attended by 33 youth between the ages of 11 and 15. Participants got a taste of police work that ranged from SWAT training to water rescue, grid searches, and crime scene investigations.

“It was non-stop activity and everyone had a blast, from campers to police staff,” said Youth Coordinator Jenna Johnson. “We had a campfire and s’mores, of course, and we slept in tents and beneath tarps,” she said. “I don’t think anyone got much sleep, but everyone loved it.”

Campers and city staff, including police officers, traveled to the Ben Delatour Boy Scout Ranch, near Red Feathers Lake, July 27-29 for this inaugural experience. Their trip was filled with hands-on activities that had campers learning how to: shoot .22 rifles; navigate a ropes course; canoe in the lake; search a building; dust for fingerprints; and make casts of footprints.

Police officers specializing in crime scene investigation, K-9 units, SWAT tactics and other skills traveled back and forth to give interactive presentations. Commerce City Police Chief Philip Baca also made the trek to work with the eager young campers.

“It was a very rewarding experience to participate in Police Camp and see first-hand the impact we made with these kids,” said Baca. “Part of our role as a police organization is to build positive relationships with community members. Police Camp let us work one-on-one with the next generation and impart an understanding of the responsibilities we have to our community.”

Included in that responsibility is being fit and ready for emergency situations – and campers learned first-hand that hiking, running and other physical exercise is a great way to stay in shape. On the final day, the 33 campers returned to Commerce City tired, but happy and enthusiastic about all they had seen and done. “All the boys and girls want a longer camp experience,” said Johnson, “so I guess that means Police Camp was a hit.”

Police Camp is part of the city’s EPIC program that provides free and low-cost activities for youth as an alternative to involvement in drugs, crime and violence. EPIC activities provide positive role models and encourage good relationships between community members and business leaders and area youth.

EPIC offerings include boxing, geocaching, positive ticketing and events such as Teen Nights Around Town, and Teen Jam. For more information and a complete list of upcoming EPIC activities, visit the city website at or call Jenna Johnson at 303-289-3674.

For more information on how businesses and organizations can help support this program, call Lisa Nordholt at 303-289-3702.

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