GREENBURGH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – When you think of summer camp, what comes to mind? Probably sports and swimming. But what about sirens?
WCBS 880’s Sean Adams On The Story
If you went to the Greenburgh Police Department’s summer youth camp, you would.
“We go through seven weeks of everything from physical training to blocks of academic instruction. We teach them the penal law. They get to understand vehicle and traffic. They do role playing where they do everything from domestic disputes to how to deal with a car stop,” said Police Officer David Zenon. “They get to basically undertsand our world in law enforcement.”
They even respond to mock 911 calls.
“The campers become the police officers and the police officers become the civilians. So, we’re the ones who are having a quarrel in an apartment and the campers come and respond as officers,” he said.
There were only 28 spots and it’s competitive to get into it. Some of the cadets are super-achievers. Others are recommended because they’re at risk.
“Gangs, drugs, basically a lifestyle that isn’t conducive for anything good to happen,” Zenon told WCBS 880 reporter Sean Adams. “This is a great opportunity for us to rein in some kids and really do something good.”
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“When we get these kids, they’re your typical 12-year-old, 13 and 14-year-old kids, and when they leave here, we see them more as adults,” said Sgt. Rob Grimalia.
Chelsea Isaac, 14, said she learned, “discipline and how to make sure you respect your elders and they teach you a lot about being healthy and physical fitness.”
“I actually want to be an FBI agent when I grow up,” said 13-year-old Andres Espinoza, who was also proud of his physical performance. “44 push ups, 106 jumping jacks, 50 sit ups, and I dropped 34 seconds off my running time.”
“They act really tough and they seem really scary because they’re very disciplined themselves and they want to make sure that they do whatever they can to get you on the right path, added Isaac.
Police Officer Herman Killiebrew, 28, said he has a special bond with these cadets. He attended the first police camp 14 years ago.
“They know that they can from this to actually do something successful with their lives,” he said. “I just let them know that when I was their age, I was in that exact same spot.”
“They see us not just as guys wearing blue uniforms anymore. They see us as individuals that want to help them, which is pretty cool,” said Grimalia.
It’s an action-packed summer with visits from the SWAT team and the bomb squad.
It’s all made possible by a generous donor named Patricia Lanza.
“She’s done more donations than I could shake a stick at,” Zenon said.
At the end of camp, the cadets write a thank you letter to her.