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Junior police cadets: 21 youth complete police academy

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Liam Mansfield, 14, (left) accepts his certificate for completing the Elizabeth City Police Department Junior Police Academy from police Chief Eddie Buffaloe at a ceremony in the auditorium at Museum of the Albemarle on Friday.

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By William F. West
Staff Writer

Saturday, July 14, 2018

The newest graduates of the Elizabeth City Junior Police Academy were urged Friday to earn good grades and stay out of trouble if they ever want to become law enforcement officers or have a career in government.  

Ervin Jones, a youth assistant with the Elizabeth City Police Department’s Athletic League, also told the 21 cadets in the academy’s fifth graduating class that if they did their part in life, “life gets a little better.”

Jones addressed the graduating cadets, their parents and police and city officials during a ceremony at Museum of the Albemarle on Friday. The academy is a week-long program that provides area youth an insider’s view of law enforcement. The program is similar to the Citizens Police Academy the department hosts for adults.    

While Jones’ message to the youngsters was mostly uplifting, he also had warnings for them about bad behavior.

He told cadets if they believe they’re tougher than the police and decide police can’t do anything to them, they are going to find themselves in a difficult situation. He said police can’t help them if they’re uncooperative.

He also told cadets they’ll face a tougher road in life if they make bad decisions and bad choices, and do not listen to their loved ones.

He told cadets if they get mad about something, talk about it with someone, don’t hold it in. Too many young people are being lost, he said, because they allow the bad things hovering around them to take control of their lives.

"If you don't communicate those things to your parents, to the police officers, to your supporters, you'll find yourself in a sticky situation," he said.

Police Chief Eddie Buffaloe also addressed the cadets during Friday’s ceremony.

Near the end of the ceremony, Officer Treven Franks opened the floor to anyone from the audience who wanted to speak.

Christina Turner, who works at Albemarle District Jail and is a sister to one of the cadets, stood up and said she thanks God for the Junior Police Academy program. Turner said just about every day at the jail, she sees juveniles brought in for crimes they’re accused of committing.

"And as a detention officer, you have to assert your authority," she said. "But ... as a sister, as a mother, that hurts me to my soul to see 16-, 15-year-olds, coming into that jail, not even considering what they did, the consequences of it. So, to see young people in programs like this does my heart very good."

Turner told cadats she hopes they take to heart what the police taught them during the week-long academy.

One of the graduates, Liam Mansfield, 14, said he liked the program so much last year, he decided to re-enroll for a second experience this year.

Liam said when his mother, Julie, first asked him if he wanted to sign up for the Junior Police Academy, he said he told her, "Sure,” even though he didn’t know anything about the program.

Julie said she had been looking at different summer camp options for her son when she read about the Junior Police Academy on Facebook. She expressed pride in Liam’s strong interest in the academy, noting, "He developed a great relationship with some of the officers."

Liam’s father, William, also was on hand for Friday’s ceremony. He, too, expressed pride in what Liam had accomplished.

"I think this gives him the opportunity to understand what it is to work with other people his age, to have that cohesion, group effort, team effort." he said.

William also believes the academy helped teach his son that, with every bad decision, there's a negative consequence, and that, with every good decision, there's a positive outcome.

William also said the academy had given his son a better understanding of the hazards police officers face on a daily basis. He

Asked what he had learned from the academy, Liam said, "That they (police officers) can be very friendly sometimes" but "that it can be very risky to join law enforcement."

He indicated he might be interested in a career in law enforcement, particularly in a K-9 unit, because he works great with dogs.

Police Cpl. T.J. Etheridge-Mitchell said the cadets in this summer’s class discussed how law enforcement officers train on the campus of Elizabeth City State University, staying overnight on the campus. The cadets also took physical fitness tests on the College of the Albemarle campus, and got a chance to tour Museum of the Albemarle. They also had outings that included going out for ice cream and attending a movie, she said.

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