The Beaverton Police Department's Student Academy was formed to provide high school students with a better understanding of law enforcement's role in society. As experienced by law enforcement agencies throughout the nation, the Beaverton Police Department has seen a decreasing amount of respect for authority among some of its younger residents. The opinions and ideas of children of what police officers do are based more often on what they see on television shows and in the movies than through positive interactions with police officers.
As a tool to bring community members and law enforcement together, the Beaverton Police Department established a Citizens Academy. The program experienced great success. Based upon the ideals of the Citizens Academy, the Student Academy was developed. The Student Academy is a community policing program designed to reach young people. The Student Academy utilizes a multi-prong approach including communication, education, and hands-on experience.
The goal of the Student Academy is to breakdown barriers to communication by providing an opportunity for police and students to work together. It is difficult to build bridges with young people when their initial perception of law enforcement is negative. During the Student Academy, young citizens and officers are able to spend quality time together and learn more about each other.
Students are educated on the need for proper procedures in law enforcement. These procedures are explained to students to remove the stigma that police officers pick on them. Students are told what can happen to police officers, perpetrators, victims, or innocent bystanders when police procedures are not followed.
Students attend mini workshops that provide them with basic education and hands-on experience with topics such as traffic, forensic science, and the use of force. Students are able to learn first-hand what the role of law enforcement is in society as well as participate in simulated scenarios.