DELBURNE — Get down on your knees! Raise your hands over your head!
Braden Fenton shouts to the male perp who starts towards him with a baseball bat. With his toy gun drawn, Fenton, 14, commands the suspect to stop moving.
The suspect happens to be Sgt. Joe Sangster of the Three Hills RCMP detachment.
And Fenton is getting a first-hand look at what it takes to be an RCMP officer in Alberta.
The Three Hills Grade 10 student said police work is more challenging than he ever imagined, particularly the physical aspect.
“They worked us pretty hard this week,” said Fenton.
Thirteen teenagers — five girls and eight boys — between the ages of 14 and 18 and from the Three Hills area, participated in the one-week youth police camp at the Delburne Centralized School.
For five days, they listened to presentations and took part in fitness activities similar to the RCMP Physical Abilities Requirement Evaluation (PARE) test, police defensive tactics, police scenarios and marching drills. They got to try their hand at fingerprinting, handcuffing and using a police baton.
Ten officers from the detachment offered expertise in police dogs, forensics and other police areas.
“In this community and this detachment, we have a wonderful working relationship with our youth,” said Sangster.
“I have found over the last three years . . . my calls for service have dropped substantially because of our relationship with our youth. They are passing it on to their parents and peers. They know us by our first names. We’ve formed a bond and respect for one another. This camp is just other example of us trying to find new ideas to interaction with youth.”
Sangster said they are keeping youth out of trouble by showing them they are the good guys.
Sixteen-year-old Courtney Morgan’s father is a volunteer firefighter in Trochu so she knew a little about emergency services. But she wanted to learn more about other possible career opportunities.
She enjoyed learning how to put handcuffs on and being authoritative.
“Everything is so precise from how you pulled them out to how you put them in the pouch and to the way you hold the hands when you handcuff them,” said Morgan.
She said the camp has renewed her respect for the men and women in uniforms. As well, she said the physical aspect gave her a push to be more active in her life.
Likewise, Michael Janz, 18, said he was surprised about the physical elements of the job.
While Janz is active in basketball and volleyball, he was out of breath after most drills.
“You have to be more physically fit than I thought,” said Janz. “You see the stereotypical cops with doughnuts in movies but they don’t do that here.”
Three Hills School resource officer Const. Bart Warner developed the course because there were students in the area who were interested in policing and may not necessarily get into the RCMP summer cadet program in Regina.
“The idea is for them to come and experience the skill set to get into law enforcement and an idea of what it would be like to go to Depot in Regina,” said Warner. “There’s always a need to recruit good quality recruits.”
The 13 teenagers participated in a graduation ceremony on Friday.
Next year, the detachment hopes to expand the camp. Each participant paid $100.