Possible future law enforcement officers graduated from the Junior Police Academy with the Waco Police Department Thursday, after finishing their last assignment, an active shooter simulation.
Officer Sofie Martinez with the Waco Police Department said high school students who participated were geared up and ready to go as they worked as a team to find the shooter, confront him, and if necessary, take him down.
"We save this for last because they have fun with it and they learn about an active shooter," Martinez said. "Active shooter, that's something that is part of their world. That's something that they're growing up with and I mean they're training on it as students."
"It's like what a real cop would do and you're in that situation, in a real situation compared to that you'd be a little more panicked than you are, and yes we were all panicking a little bit," said participant, Caleb Margoitta.
Martinez said the exercise was the culmination of two weeks of police training that included taking down an active shooter, processing a crime scene and learning how to handcuff a person.
"Every day for the last two weeks they've had something different to do," Martinez said. "They've learned about different aspects of law enforcement."
Many of the students said they go through the Junior Police Academy because they are interested in going into criminal justice or law enforcement.
"Law enforcement is kind of my thing. I've always liked it, like studying it and working towards it," Margoitta said.
"I want to be an FBI agent or part of the bomb squad so it interested me every time we would do something and it was fantastic," said participant Britney Silva.
"So this kind of gives them an introduction and lets them figure out is this something that they really want to do," Martinez said.
Even though attending the Junior Police Academy will not make the students certified peace officers, Martinez said it puts them on a path toward that.
"Once they turn 21, they're not going in with cold feet. They know what they're getting themselves into," Martinez said.
Martinez said recruiting officers keep tabs on the students who really want to go into law enforcement. Once the student turn 21, the recruiting officers contact them to see if they would like to become officers.
Martinez said the Junior Police Academy started about 10 years ago, and she added the active shooter scenario three years ago.
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