Andrea Campbell, 11, wanted to know about law enforcement and safety during the annual School Resource Officer’s Junior Deputy Camp.
“I thought it was cool for me to know and learn about safety so if I am in a situation, I will know what to do,” Andrea said. “If they know self-defense, they can take care of themselves and see their family for a long time.”
Andrea was about one of 140 Rutherford County rising 6th grade students who will attend a middle school next year. SROs sponsor the camp annually to rising 6th graders to transition from elementary school to middle school.
She and fellow students spent the week learning about bullying, bicycle safety, investigations, fire safety, Internet safety, K-9s and radKIDS, a national program teaching students how to protect themselves from violence and harm. The students toured the Adult Detention Center Friday before graduation.
SRO Capt. Brad Harrison said the Junior Deputy Camps teach children about the duties of law enforcement and responsibility and how to build trust with law enforcement.
The camp is related to Community Oriented Policing where the School Resource Officers build rapport with students and parents. The SROs spend time with them beyond what the students see in school and on the street.
“We are letting them see the officers care about them and show our dedication to the youth of this county,” Harrison said. “The camp is also a chance to build self-esteem and leadership qualities.”
They heard about the Sheriff’s Office drone use, criminal evidence and Internet safety.
Other classes included Smyrna Police K-9 Officers Don Godby and Andrew Schaefer demonstrating how their K-9 partners search for illegal drugs in vehicles. Smyrna Fire Department firefighters talked about fire safety.
Afterwards, Smyrna Fire Department treated the students to a stream of water during the hot day.
Andrea enjoyed the radKIDS self-defense training because the officers taught students ways to protect themselves.
Each student had a chance to practice the training one-on-one with an SRO while being coached by another SRO about hitting hard and knowing when to run away.
After the session, SRO Kerry Nelson told the students everyone hit hard.
“I saw great moves,” Nelson said.
SRO Jeff VerBruggen reviewed the lessons.
“What is your No. 1 defense?” VerBruggen asked.
“Our voice,” the students replied.
The lessons impacted Andrea.
“I won’t forget any of this,” Andrea said with confidence.