- Associated Press - Sunday, June 15, 2014

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) - It’s not every day you see someone grinning from ear to ear when they get out of a patrol car.

“That was crazy!” said Bailey Lienemann as she climbed out from behind the wheel of a Nebraska State Patrol cruiser.

Lienemann, of Norfolk, is one of 37 high school seniors who took part in the Junior Law Cadets Academy this week at the State Patrol Training Academy in Grand Island. On Wednesday afternoon, the girls were taking turns trying their hands at emergency vehicle operations under the guidance of state troopers.

“I liked it because it was fast,” she told The Grand Island Independent (https://bit.ly/1irAz1i).

Lienemann admitted it was a bit nerve-racking to drive so fast with a trooper sitting next to her, but she was proud of how she handled the course, which involved maneuvering around cones. “I didn’t hit any and I’m surprised because I’m a crazy driver,” she said.

Lienemann is interested in becoming a police officer or a state trooper. She said the Junior Law Cadet program is a way for her to get a taste of what law enforcement is like and what basic training entails.

Trooper Cody Paro said the troopers were teaching the teens how to drive around obstacles in the road as part of the emergency vehicle operations training. In driver’s education classes, students are taught to look where they want the vehicle to go and watch out for obstacles.

People tend to lose focus when something unexpected happens, however, such as a child riding onto the street on a bicycle, Paro said. Drivers become focused on the obstacle and hit it instead of continuing to look where they want to go and moving away from it.

The skills the young women learned on Wednesday can help them concentrate behind the wheel and make them better drivers in their day-to-day lives, he said.

The girls also learned about radar and patrolling.

Like Lienemann, Danielle Boggs of Brady is interested in a career in law enforcement. Her grandfather is a sheriff’s deputy in Keith County in western Nebraska, and she said she decided to take part in the Junior Law Cadet program to learn more about law enforcement.

Some of the program has been hard, but it hasn’t changed her desire to follow in her grandpa’s footsteps, Boggs said.

As Boggs ran to a patrol car to take her turn behind the wheel, Brittany Lucas of Firth finished up her spin around the course.

“It was really fun,” Lucas said.

She thought the fast course was easier than the one that required them to back up around cones. “That was tricky,” she said.

Lucas is interested in becoming a forensic pathologist and said her mom found the Junior Law Cadet program, which is associated with the American Legion. The program focuses on a lot of different areas of law enforcement but did include some forensic topics, such as fingerprinting, she said.

“I was really looking forward to that,” Lucas said.

Paige McCoy of Aurora isn’t interested in pursuing law enforcement as a career but wanted to learn more about what her dad, Jeromy, may have experienced when he went through boot camp. Jeromy McCoy is a sergeant with the State Patrol. She said he hadn’t told her much about his training, so some of what she has gone through this week was a “big shock.”

Driving wasn’t one of the shockers for McCoy. She enjoyed driving fast around the cones. She was also looking forward to firearms training. The challenging portion of the program for her has been the daily physical fitness training.

“I haven’t worked out in a while, so that’s been hard,” she said.

This is the 47th year for the weeklong academy that follows a strict itinerary to provide cadets with firsthand knowledge of what is required of law officers. The junior cadets begin each day at 6:15 a.m. with physical fitness training, followed by a flag-raising ceremony. They then go to class to learn about defensive tactics, SWAT operations, drug investigations, municipal and federal law enforcement, accident investigations, gangs, Internet crimes, polygraph examinations, firearms, bomb technicians, police service dogs and criminal investigations, among other things. The girls graduated from the program on Friday.

American Legion posts from across the state nominate the cadets for the program. Participants are selected based on worthy character, interest in law enforcement, evidence of self-discipline and the ability to share the knowledge gained with others.

A group of 40 male cadets will participate in the program next week.


Information from: The Grand Island Independent, https://www.theindependent.com

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