The was packed Thursday afternoon as more than a dozen junior high students crowded into a single cell.
But that wasn’t the result of a massive crime wave. The students were in the jail as part of a Youth Academy in which they got to learn about the Hopkins police and fire and the FBI.
The program aims to build relations between youth and police, introduce the students to career opportunities and encourage them not to make mistakes that cut them off from opportunities down the road, said Mercy Das-Sulc, Hopkins’ Joint Community Police Partnership community liaison. About 30 students from and attended the event.
Eighth grader Abdi Ahmed signed up to attend because he wants to be an FBI agent someday. He visited the agency’s website beforehand and came prepared with several specific questions about the application process—such as what the website means when it says men must sign up for Selective Service. Questioning the special agent and intelligence analyst who attended wound up being Ahmed’s favorite part of the day.
Hopkins police and fire also spoke to the students, describing what they do and how to get into the field. All of them emphasized the importance of making good decisions now so that students can choose the job they want later—as Police Capt. Tony Hanlin did when emphasizing that officers have to be calm even with people who don’t like them.
“You’re going to come across a lot of people who aren’t going to be very nice to you,” he said. “You have to suck it up, take the high road and do the right thing.”
But it wasn’t just talks. The students got to try on firefighters’ protective equipment, inspect the vehicles and do a role-playing exercise that gave them a taste of how to do an investigation.
Amid all the activities, the jail remained a high point. Eighth grader Roy Mack said it was his favorite part of the day—even if it’s not an experience he wants to try out for real.
“I couldn’t do it,” he said. “It’s so boring in there. I’m used to having stuff to do.”