Tea police camp helps students solve crime
By Garrett Ammesmaki,
School Resource Officer Alexi Miranda shows Tea area students how to take fingerprints during the police summer camp on July 19 in the Venture Elementary band room.
Tea Area elementary students have been sleuthing out criminals with help from local law enforcement this past month.
Thirty Tea area students are spending this summer learning the necessary skills to examine crime scenes in a police camp ran by the local School Resource Officer Alexi Miranda.
Miranda has introduced them to a variety of tools that officers and detectives use to stop criminals, and help provide them with the know-how to solve their own caper.
This week was the second camp of the summer, and 10 of the students were tasked with solving the case of the missing bicycle.
“The kids seem to really enjoy it,” Miranda said. It gives them a chance at, not only having fun, but also learning valuable communication skills and helps them “break out of their comfort zones.”
Each day of the camp features lessons on a different step to solving the crime. On Tuesday, July 19, the skills of the day included finger printing and taking an imprint of shoes for evidence.
Apart from the technical side, kids also learned how to question witnesses and engage with the community in an attempt to weed out the wrong-doer.
They drew sketches of the missing bike, along with taking down other details, and took part in a suspect line-up that ended with a questioning of the suspect.
“They get nervous when they hear the suspects are coming in,” Miranda said. But, after a while, they’re able to work through it and ask the questions they need.
Each week of the camp there’s a different crime solved by a different group of crime fighters.
The first week it was the case of the missing utensils in the school cafeteria.
The student detectives were able to work together to put the suspect in custody.
Miranda said that camps like the one she ran this summer were helpful to her when she was young.
“It was a good way for me to get to be around police officers in a non-intimidating way,” she said.
This is the first camp of its kind to be run by the Tea Police Department, and Miranda said the parents and kids have had nothing but good to say about it.
“Parents have told me that their kids couldn’t stop talking about (the camp),” she said. “They’d go to bed early just so they could wake up the next morning and come back.”
“It’s great to hear that all the effort that me and the other officers have put into it has paid off,” she added.
This year’s camp was put on with $1,500 from the Tea Area Grant Foundation, as well as daily snacks provided by Fareway Foods in Tea.
Next year, the plan is to reach out to other local businesses and law enforcement agencies in the area to make the camp even bigger and open it up to more students. This year, it was only open to fourth through sixth graders that resided in Tea and went to a Tea Area elementary school.
“Venture Elementary has been very generous in allowing me to use their facilities,” Miranda said. But next year, the new police department should be finished, so they will most likely move it there.
Wherever the crimes are found, Miranda is certain the local students will be able to use the skills they’re taught to do their part in taking down any future fugitives.