HELENA - Summer is usually a break from learning for high school students, but not for 18 students from across the state who recently wrapped up the Junior Police Leadership Academy.
The 18 students were nominated for the opportunity by their local police chief or sheriff. The Junior Police Leadership Academy is a week-long program at the Montana Law Enforcement Academy in Helena.
During the week, students face a variety of challenges that they work through as a team — from rappelling to dealing with high-stress scenarios, like active-shooter situations and tense traffic stops.
“A lot of them will come into this thinking ‘I can’t do this,’ but in fact, they can,” Helena Police Department Cpl. Noal Petty said.
East Helena High School senior Braden Howell — who attended this year’s Junior Police Leadership Academy — says the experience was a taste of what he wants to do as a career.
“This has always been my dream,” Howell said. “It’s something that I thought would be a good stepping-stone.”
Havre High School Senior Mallory Murray — who worked at the court in her hometown — said she wanted to attend the academy to get more insight into what police work is like.
“I worked in the court and I got to read all the reports, but I didn’t get to see what happened or what they went through,” Murray said.
The Junior Police Leadership Academy is sponsored by the Montana Association of Chiefs of Police, and it is free for the students who attend.
The skills the students gained during the week with are more than just useful for a law enforcement career.
“The leadership component they get from this is going to benefit them in whatever they do,” Petty said.
Murray and Howell said they also made new friends during the academy.
“They told our parents the first day that these aren’t going to be the same kids…they’re all going to come together, get to know each other, gel together,” Howell said. “That’s exactly what happened.”