Story by: Tim Sproles
Cadets of the Indiana Youth Cadet Law Enforcement Academy listen to a Indiana State Police instructor run through the duties involved with police k-9 units. The Indiana Youth Cadet Law Enforcement Academy, provides first-hand experiences and insight into the operations of law enforcement agencies. The program also affords these highly motivated young people an opportunity to consider law enforcement as a potential career choice. Photo by Tim Sproles
The American Legion Department of Indiana celebrated the first graduating class of its newest program, the Indiana Youth Cadet Law Enforcement Academy.
The Academy started with a partnership between the Indiana Troopers Youth Services and The American Legion, Dept. of Indiana, where Indiana State Troopers provide first-hand experiences and insight into the operations of law enforcement agencies. The program also affords these highly motivated young people an opportunity to consider law enforcement as a potential career choice.
“If this program changes one life, keeps one at-risk youth off the streets and out of a body bag if it redirects one Hoosier youth life from negative to positive, we believe it’s worth it,” said Indiana Youth Cadet Law Enforcement Academy Chairman Mark Gullion.
The academy was held on the campus of the University of Indianapolis (UI) from July 15-20, and more than 50 cadets came from different high schools across the state to take part.
A team of Hoosier Legionnaires volunteered to serve on the academy staff where they worked to support the instructors at every turn.
“I’m extremely happy that we made this partnership happen because it has made this a better program.” said Sgt. Danielle Elwood Henderson of the Indiana State Police. “The Legionnaires this week worked side-by-side and backed us up at every turn. Working together as one team is really going to help this program continue to improve.”
It was a very busy week with blocks of instruction that covered different aspects of a career in law enforcement. Cadets took part in simulated weapons training, driver training, crime scene investigation techniques, self-defense, physical fitness, drill and ceremony and many other activities.
Counselors and staff of the academy said that witnessing the change in these you men and woman over the course of just one week has been incredible.
“It was amazing just to see them grow.”, said Yvette Perry-Fancher, a Legion volunteer from Indianapolis Post 64. “When these cadets first arrived, they arrived as individuals. Flash forward to graduation day and all of these individuals have become a team. They have pushed each other to work harder and picked each other up if they fell short. Each one of them knows that they are taking part in something bigger than themselves.”
Throughout the week, when asked to describe the camp, none of the cadets used the word “easy.”
“This isn’t an easy program to get through. You have to work for everything you get and we don’t take it easy on them.” Said, Gullion. “I think that is what makes this program so special. Every single one of these young men and women put in the work and earned the right to call themselves graduates of the Indiana Youth Cadet Law Enforcement Academy.”
During the graduation ceremony, the Department of Indiana Cmdr., Rodney Strong told the cadets, “Every single one of you should be proud. Not only for your accomplishments this week, but also for this academy itself. We have huge plans for this program down the road and a lot of ideas that will keep this academy growing each year. We hope to continue and build a legacy of excellence at this academy. That legacy will always be traced right back here to you. Our first graduating class.”
Graduating cadets feel that they completed the academy and earned more than a certificate.
“I have no doubt that what we all experienced this week has changed all of us for the better.” Said, Cadet Logan Stirn. “I think we have a better understanding of what integrity and respect really are and how we can apply that to our daily lives.”
The American Legion Department of Indiana plans to work with the Indiana Troopers Youth Services to continue and develop the program to include more training events and a larger number of cadets for next year’s Indiana Youth Cadet Law Enforcement Academy.
For more information on the IYCLEA program, please visit:
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