Campbell youth police academy kicks off summer classes


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By Graig Graziosi

ggraziosi@vindy.com

CAMPBELL

Students in Campbell spent Tuesday morning trying to earn badges, but rather than learning to make fires and read maps, these students learned about crimes and cops.

The Campbell Youth Police Academy had its first class – a group of 15 8- to 10-year-olds – Tuesday morning at Campbell K-7 school. This is the program’s inaugural year in Campbell.

Detective Sgt. Delphine Baldwin-Casey – or Commander Casey as her students call her – has been leading the youth police academy around the region for more than a decade.

Baldwin-Casey, a retired 31-year veteran with the Youngstown Police Department and a native of Campbell, developed the program to help students between the age of 8 and 16 learn about crime and accountability and to reduce violent crime committed by minors.

She awards golden “police badges” to the students to reward them for having good manners, helping each other and being responsible.

“I think parents bring their kids to this program because it helps the students develop responsibility,” Baldwin-Casey said.

The Youngstown Catholic Diocese, the Campbell Board of Education and the Campbell Police Department sponsor the program.

The academy is broken up by age group – 8- to 10-year-olds, 11- to 13-year-olds and 14-16 year-olds – who meet as separate classes through the summer, culminating in a graduation ceremony in August.

Jaliyah Johnson, 8, of Brunswick, said she learned about bullying and stealing during the session, and her classmate Lauryn Moseby, 8, of Boardman, said she was enjoying her first day at the academy.

“I met new friends, and I like everyone,” Moseby said. “Everyone’s been really nice.”

During class, Baldwin-Casey talks to students about various issues – Tuesday’s session was on identifying different types of crime – and the second half of the day was focused on marijuana.

“Every class we’ll do a session on drugs,” she said. “We’re starting with marijuana and working our way up to harder drugs as we go. I think it’s important to address drugs, especially considering the opioid crisis.”

Throughout the course of the academy, the students will go on a field trip to the Mahoning County Juvenile Justice Center and hear from speakers, including Campbell police Chief Dennis Puskarcik.

“I talked to them today about what the chief does and how police officers are there to protect and serve, not about putting kids in jail,” Puskarcik said. “We’re here to help.”

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