Junior Deputy Program assists in Kane County

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A group of west suburban high school students have a better understanding of law enforcement, thanks to their participation in a Junior Deputy Program led by the Kane County Sheriff’s Office.
Eighty-five students were honored June 16 at a Kane County Cougars baseball game for completing the course. They came from St. Charles East, St. Charles North, East Aurora, West Aurora, Batavia, Geneva, and Kaneland High Schools. The six-week program familiarizes students with law enforcement and tackles social issues to better prepare them for life beyond academia.
“It’s important they get recognized for all their hard work in and out of the classroom,” said Sheriff Kramer, who spearheaded the Junior Deputy Program three years ago.
Kramer is actively addressing mistrust among teens toward law enforcement. In the Junior Deputy Program, students interact directly with officers several times a week at their high school and at the County facilities.
“Not all officers are like how you see on the internet,” said senior Elizabeth Mendez from West Aurora High School, who admitted she didn’t have a positive perception of cops before the program, and now plans to enroll in the military and pursue a career in law enforcement after graduation.
The program includes a K-9 demonstration, a chance to check out SWAT armored vehicles and got to try out a polygraph test. It addresses social awareness.
Guest speaker Dr. Adrienne Coleman addressed the students in May with the topic of social injustices. She’s an administrator and director of equity and inclusion at Illinois Math and Science Academy.
“We talked about race and gender relations from an individual, institutional and societal perspective,” said Coleman. When addressing LGBTQ issues to a classroom, she noticed laughter from a couple of her students.
“I know where that laughter comes from. It comes from not understanding, or knowing about it. But the reality is, we’re losing more students who are LGBTQ to mental health issues and depression,” she said. “It’s our responsibility to be mindful of that.”
She added that the students’ opinions differed on topics such as Kanye West’s politics and gender roles.
“It’s not about coming to an agreement. It’s about being brave enough to listen and get a mutual understanding and mutual respect. A lot of times, people think they should agree, that there’s only one view. Not so,” she said. “It’s not about agreement. It’s about conversation.”
The six-week course tackles career advancement, and even being mindful when posting on social media.
“There’s nothing we won’t talk about,” said Tim Baker, coordinator for the Fox Valley Career Center. Baker, a retired Sergeant from the Geneva Police Department, sees most of the kids standing on the thin blue line one day.
Sixteen-year-old Ivan Monroy of East Aurora High School has struggled with mixed messages from family and friends when it comes to officers. He is adamant that he’s “not a product of his surroundings,” and has taken on the challenge of trying to convince his peers to take the class.
“We [students from East and West Aurora High Schools] took pictures at the [Cougars] game together. Sometimes these schools are tagged from their rival school. This program brought us together,” said Monroy, who plans to enlist in the Marines.
The Junior Deputy Program costs $5,000 which includes Kane County Cougars tickets for the students and their families, a luncheon with Sheriff Kramer and T-shirts. Sheriff Kramer sees the program growing and encourages interested parties to learn more at www.kanesheriff.com.
— Kane County Sheriff’s Office

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