Program in Lafayette gives kids a chance to step into the shoes of a cop

LAFAYETTE, Ind. — This week, children in Lafayette are stepping into the shoes of a police officer.

The Lafayette Police Department is hosting its Junior Police Academy throughout the week, for children ages 12 to 14.

The program kicked off on Tuesday at the Lafayette Police Department Training Center and allows kids to be exposed to various aspects of law enforcement including, Crime Scene Investigation, K9 Unit, Bike Unit, SWAT, and gang awareness.

Children will also learn various self-defense tactics and take part in practice traffic stops.

Lafayette Police Officer Tobias Buschong said the goal of the program is to create positive interaction with police officers, while educating youth about the challenges and responsibilities of police work.

“We are here to bring the kids in and give them an experience with the police officers,” said Buschong.

On Tuesday, Officer Buschong worked alongside 6th-grader, Gaige Linder, with traffic stop scenarios.

“We were acting like cops and he was having us go up, ask for their license and registration and we’d go back to the car,” said Linder.

Officer Buschong and several others with the Lafayette Police Department worked with 30 students throughout the day.

“I can remember being a kid and knowing what it was like to look up to other people,” said Buschong. “I might be the person that helps them decide whether or not they want to have a future in policing. It’s something I take very seriously and have a lot of fun with.”

Linder said his aunt signed him up for this week’s Junior Police Academy as a surprise birthday gift.

He said he looks up to police officers for their courage and wants to become a police officer when he’s older.

I think it’s cool getting to drive around in a police car, getting to protect and serve your town and country, and taking down the bad guy population because all of the school shootings recently,” said Linder. “They’re putting their life at risk every day when they go to work, so it’s hard, because they don’t know what’s going to happen.”

The 5th Annual Junior Police Academy will continue through Thursday.