Kids in the Junior Police summer program at the Lockport Housing Authority get to enjoy standard summer fun staples like swimming, cookouts and physical activity.
They also get to learn about the basics of law enforcement, such as using a speed-detecting radar gun, Haz-Mat response and K-9 units.
The program, now in its 20th year, allows kids to interact with Lockport Police officers in a positive, fun way.
Police Capt. Douglas Haak helped spearhead the program’s start in 1996. He still leads the Junior Police program every summer.
“We figure conservatively that we’ve served over 200 Lockport Housing Authority families and children over the years,” Haak said at the program’s graduation ceremony Friday afternoon at the Lockport Housing Authority building on Michigan St. “We’ve really touched the lives of a lot of kids, and hopefully these kids have had a positive experience with law enforcement.”
Active and retired Lockport Police officers help run the program, with active officers taking their own vacation time to participate, Haak said.
Each of the 30 graduates of the Junior Police program received a certificate with their name on it at the Friday graduation ceremony. Several kids were given special awards for behavior and attitudes, as well as a backpack filled with school supplies.
Awards included the “Radar Award,” which went to Noah Ebanks.
“Noah was helping (community policing aide and pastor) Mark Sanders check radar speeds on West Avenue, when he spotted a motorcycle doing 50 mph in the 30 mph zone,” Haak said while presenting Ebanks’ award.
Attendance for the Junior Police program is capped at 30 children every year. The program is open to kids ages 6 to 13.
On the last day before graduation, Junior Police students are treated to a trip to Martin’s Fantasy Island in Grand Island.
“It’s a fun week for the kids, and interaction with the police is beneficial,” Kevin Bancroft, executive director of Lockport Housing Authority, said.
The Lockport Housing Authority honored Haak with a special plaque at Friday’s ceremony, thanking him for the 20 years he’s invested into the program.
“With today’s culture and a lot of things going on in the media, we want to make sure that these kids have a positive experience with law enforcement,” Haak said.