Teen Police Academy aims to recruit future officers

OREGON, Ohio (WTVG) - Some high school students are getting special access to law enforcement this week thanks to a police academy tailored to teens.

14-year-old Brandon Cheatham will be a freshman at TSA this fall. His dream is to work in law enforcement.

"I'm just interested in helping out in the community," said Cheatham.

Brandon and a handful of other teens are participating in a unique week-long police academy. It's hosted by the Oregon Police Department.

"I wanted to go to an explorers program for Toledo, but I couldn't because of my age. So, I was like finally I can do something involving law enforcement," said Cheatham.

These high school students are gaining in-depth knowledge about what it takes to be a cop. Patrolman Tim Mcloud is leading the course. He's a school resource officer at Clay High School.

"We go into constitutional rights. We go into where do police officers derive their authority from and then apply that to searches, vehicle stops," said Mcloud.

From detective work like fingerprinting and DNA collection, to learning about how police use drones, the K-9 unit and the SWAT team, these kids are getting a hands-on experience.

The best part:

"Shooting a taser, shooting a sim[unition] gun," said 14-year-old Timothy Gleason. He'll be a freshman at Clay in the fall.

This is the second year of the teen police academy.

"We're trying to get more community involvement. We want people to see what we do, why we do it, how we do it," said Mcloud.

The goal is to recruit future officers by inspiring interest early on.

"Departments are struggling across the country recruiting young people into their profession," said Oregon Police Chief Michael Navarre.

"We want them to stay in the area and be an officer where they're familiar with, but ultimately we just want them to be prepared for this line of work wherever it takes them. Whether it's federal or park ranger, whatever," said Mcloud.

It appears it's working.

"I'm kind of like a big nerd on law enforcement," said Cheatham.

"Being a police officer, I want to do it," said Gleason.

The academy runs all week. Thursday, the focus will be first aid and how to deal with active shooter situations. The students will graduate Friday.