A police camp for kids Safety: For 35 Baltimore County youngsters summer camp was held at the police academy, where officers introduced them to police work and drug education in a friendly atmosphere.

August 16, 1996|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,SUN STAFF

For 35 elementary school students, summer camp this year was a lesson in crime scene management, evidence collection and investigative tactics used by the Baltimore County Police Department.

The children -- chosen from elementary schools in southeastern Baltimore County -- were enrolled in the first Public Safety Camp at the county police training academy in Dundalk.

"I learned how strict the academy is and why it is important to have police officers around and why it is important to leave guns alone," Amanda Jenkins, who will be a fifth-grader this year at Middlesex Elementary, said yesterday.

"Also, I don't have a lot to do during the summer, and now I can get away from my brother and relax in the cool air conditioning," she added.

The day camp program, which began Monday and ends today with a cookout and magic show, was run by police youth counselors and drug education officers. Other officers from the police dog unit, tactical squad, bomb squad, marine unit and evidence collection unit talked about their jobs and demonstrated how guns, personal watercraft and bullet-resistant vests work.

The youngsters also spent a day touring the 911 communications center and Circuit Court in Towson. Judge Dana M. Levitz explained to the campers the criminal process and what happens when someone is charged with a crime.

The camp is free, said Officer Richard E. Saylor, and lunch, drinks and blue shirts with a camp logo were provided by local businesses.

"The idea is to expose the kids to the police in a fun, educational and nonconfrontational atmosphere," he said. "We advertised the camp in four schools in the Dundalk and Essex areas, and we got responses from 42 kids, but we could only take 35 this year."

Yesterday, tactical Officer Robert M. Tribull Jr. told the children surrounding him in an academy classroom how officers use equipment such as camouflage clothing made of strips of green, brown and beige burlap to hide in the woods -- or even in a north county cow pasture, as was done during a hostage situation several years ago.

"We had a guy with a gun who didn't want to come out of the house," the former Army paratrooper told the children. "That was a bad situation right from the get-go.

"Now this didn't happen to me, but there was another officer who was wearing the camouflage and he was laying down in the cow pasture and a cow came by. He didn't want to scare the cow, so he didn't move and the cow "

Well, let's just say it was a damp moment -- and the children, listening closely, burst out laughing at the anecdote.

"I really wanted to see how the police go into action," said Lorne Burne, a fifth-grader at Our Lady of Hope School, after Tribull's demonstration. "And this has been interesting. Usually I spend the summer playing outside or going to my grandmother's. I hope I can come back next year."

Besides getting an insider's view of police operations, the campers learned about the dangers of drugs and how to avoid them.

"It is very important to stay off drugs," said Amanda Dean, a fifth-grader at Hawthorne Elementary School. "And also never to touch a gun. If I see a gun, I should go tell an adult right away."

Pub Date: 8/16/96

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