Power, Local Police Hold Youth Camp
(Pittsburgh, July 25, 2012)
The Pittsburgh Police held its fifth annual Cops & Kids Camp this month. The camp has three one-week sessions spread throughout July and August. The first session took place July 18 at Schenley Park in Oakland. The second was held July 25 at Banksville Park and the third camp will be August 6 at Riverview Park.
“We try to spread out to different sections of the city,” Officer Tonya Ford said. “That way kids from all over Pittsburgh have an opportunity to participate.”
During the week, campers arrive at 9:00 am and leave at 4:00 pm. They are provided breakfast and lunch everyday free of charge to the campers. This is possible because of all the sponsors the camp has. Some include Highmark, Pittsburgh Transportation Group, CitiParks, Pittsburgh Police Foundation, PNC, Heinz Field, FedEx, and the Pittsburgh Power. All children who are City of Pittsburgh residents between the ages of 10 and 14 are eligible to attend the camp.
“In the past, Cops & Kids limited each session to 50 kids, but due to the overwhelming applications this year we opened it up to 60 per session,” Ford said.
Upon arrival on the first day, campers are divided up into teams and are assigned to a police officer squad leader. The campers begin each day with physical fitness training (running, stretching, calisthenics etc.) conducted by one of Pittsburgh Police Academy’s certified instructors. Once a week however, Pittsburgh Power players come to the camp and lead the morning exercises.
John Green, Christian Wise, and Moqut Ruffins led the second session of the camp.
“We came this morning to teach you all about the basics of football. We have a couple drills for you guys to teach you a little bit about passing, rushing, and defense,” Ruffins said during introductions. “We want to interact with all of you and have some fun today.”
The players gathered the kids in a circle for stretching and then led them in defensive, rushing, and passing drills. Green instructed the defensive drills and went through backpedaling, side shuffles, and karaoke. Wise led the passing and Ruffins was in charge of rushing drills, which focused on ball security.
After the drills, Green challenged the kids to a 50-yard race. Then the campers moved inside for a Q&A and autograph signing with the players.
“I had a good time with the kids! I think us being there really made their day,” Green said. “My favorite part of today was either the race or the question segment. They asked a lot of good questions so it was fun.”
Following the morning activities, the kids learn about public safety policies and procedures, which includes a presentation by City of Pittsburgh Public Safety Personnel (SWAT, Bomb Squad, K9, Crime Unit, Fire, Narcotics, and EMS).
The camp represents a unique experience for Pittsburgh area youth to understand and explore the complexities of law enforcement. According to Officer Tonya Ford, the students embark on a one week adventure to experience the inside workings of the police department. The classes they attend are designed to increase the student’s knowledge of law enforcement’s place in society as well as aid them in making responsible decisions in their everyday lives.
“I think the kids should know that the police are only there to protect them and their families. I’m happy the police department is involved with kids because it keeps them busy and out of trouble,” Green said.
The Cops & Kids Mission Statement says: The program’s objective is to help students gain a positive perspective of law enforcement that will help to make them more responsible citizens and participants in the community. The program goal is to help build self-esteem and an understanding of the student’s role in maintaining a safe and healthy community.
Throughout the camp, the participants will acquire a better understand of law enforcement through demonstrating police procedures, developing leadership skills, drug and gang awareness, physical fitness and nutrition, crime prevention, evidence tracking, and crime solving.
“Our ultimate goal is to establish a better relationship with the community and its children,” Detective Robert White said. “Doing outreach programs like this helps us tell the community that there are two sides of us. We are not out to get you. We are here to help you and protect you.”