Olympia Police Department Brings Crime Solving Techniques To Boys & Girls Clubs Kids

boys & girls clubs olympia
Ally VanCamp dusts for fingerprints during the Olympia Police Department's Youth Citizen Academy.


By Laurie O’Brien

heritage bankIt’s a fascination that intrigues a large number of kids – solving a crime and locking up the criminal.  Recently, the Olympia Police Department brought their law enforcement training skills into the Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County.  Lead by working members of the police department, the week-long Youth Citizen’s Academy gave participants insight into how law enforcement works from the police officer’s side.

Amy Stull, who serves as the coordinator for Olympia Police Department (OPD) Community Programs, says this is the first time the OPD has put together a program like this. It seemed like a natural thing to reach out to the Boys & Girls Club to help determine an appropriate curriculum.

boys & girls clubs olympia
Vegas Rohlay displays the evidence she collected during a mock crime scene investigation.

Mike Babauta is the Director for the Olympia Boys & Girls Clubs branch. “Amy approached me about putting together a youth program,” he explains. “We sat down and came up with the Youth Citizens Academy.” In addition to helping his young charges consider different career paths, Babauta says interacting with the police department can help kids see law enforcement in a more positive light. “I want to give (the kids) a different image of a police officer. Sometimes there’s a negative association with police officers with this generation of kids.”

Based on the reaction of the participating students, the program was a bit hit.

“The coolest thing I’ve done is a mock traffic stop. We went into the police car and then talked on a radio to dispatch to tell them where we were and the license plate number of the car. We even got to write a ticket,” said 11-year-old Vegas Rohlay.

boys & girls clubs olympia
Ayden Ewell investigates a kit used to check for drug residue.

For Eli Herndon, also 11, taking part in the Youth Citizens Academy was a potential glimpse into his future.  “I love this because I plan to be a police officer someday. It’s cool because we’re learning how to solve an investigation with fingerprints and evidence, and you get to measure things,” said Eli.

The K9 Unit demonstration was a highlight for 12-year-old Chelsea Hubbard. “I got to learn about the cops’ jobs, the steps they take, and how they train the dogs.  It was neat because (the police officer) only spoke to (the dog) in German,” described Chelsea.

Miriam Bashungwa, 12,  decided to participate in the Youth Citizens Academy because it seemed like something fun, but she’s learned a lot, too:.“I’ve learned about defensive tactics, SWAT gear, and what stuff the police have in their belts and why,” she said.

boys & girls clubs olympia
Eli Herndon was responsible for mapping out the crime scene.

The Citizen Youth Academy met for four hours each afternoon over five days. Classes included the following:

  • Introduction to Law Enforcement
  • SWAT/Weapon Safety
  • Defensive Tactics
  • The Juvenile Justice System
  • Traffic Laws
  • Mock Traffic Stops/Vehicle Display and a K9 Demonstration
  • Crime Scene Investigation
  • Personal Safety
  • Drug/Alcohol Awareness
  • Fire Department/Harbor Patrol Tours

Ten-year-old Ayden Ewell summed it up in one word: “Awesome!”


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