Saturday, August 11, 2018
By Graig Graziosi
Rather than earning a gun and a badge, the students graduating from the Campbell Youth Police Academy instead earned certificates, bobble-head dolls and, in some cases, cash.
Twenty three students were given certificates upon their completion of the seven-week program, and many of them received additional awards based on various in-class accomplishments.
Abby Broz, 11, a student at Campbell Middle School and one of the graduates, received a number of awards during the program Friday, including a $100 “badge of honor” award for her actions and attitude during class.
“I can’t pick just one thing that I liked most about the class,” she said. “I liked when we got to see the police equipment up close, and I liked getting to spend time with Officer Pino.”
Officer Pino is one of Campbell’s police dogs.
The program – sponsored by the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown, the Campbell Board of Education and the Campbell Police Department – combined classroom teaching of topics such as drug awareness, the law and gun safety with real-world experiences such as field trips and discussions with police officers.
The academy was arranged by age group – 8- to 10-year-olds, 11- to 13-year-olds and 14- to 16-year-olds – but the students all graduated together.
Detective Sgt. Delphine Baldwin-Casey – or Commander Casey as her students call her – developed the program to help students learn about crime and accountability and to reduce violent crime committed by minors. She began the program during her 31-year career at the Youngstown Police Department and has been leading the youth police academy around the region for more than a decade.
Baldwin-Casey gave a brief overview of the students’ activities during the program – field trips to the Juvenile Justice Center and the Mahoning County jail, face time with police officers and hands-on experiences with law-enforcement equipment among them – and thanked their parents for letting the students attend.
“I loved your children. They captured my heart,” Baldwin-Casey said.
One of the parents, Katrice Boudrey, attended to see her son Kaleb graduate. She chose the program for her son because policing runs in her family. “I thought it was a great opportunity for him,” she said. “My father was a police officer in Mill Creek Park, YSU police department and is currently a school resource officer at Campbell Memorial High School.”
Campbell Police Chief Dennis Puskarcik, who worked as a school resource officer for a decade in Florida before taking his position in Campbell, praised Baldwin-Casey for her work running the program and said he intends for it to continue for a second year next summer.
“It’s a good program because it lets us engage with the youth in an environment where they can have conversations and ask questions of our officers. We’re not trying to talk to them out on the streets. We’ve got them in a classroom setting where everyone can interact openly,” Puskarcik said.
Though Baldwin-Casey is happy to continue the program, she said she may not be the one at the helm of future iterations.
“I have plans to retire,” she said. “I’d like to pass the program along to younger police officers. I’d still be around to help out and consult but, ultimately, I’d like to see a younger officer take over the program.”