CHILI, N.Y. -- All this week, students representing every school district in Monroe County are learning about a career in law enforcement in an intense, police academy-style environment.
This is the first year of the Monroe County Sheriff's Office Teen Police Academy, which is underway at the Public Safety Training Facility on Scottsville Road.
Instructors said they wanted to give the 13 girls and 29 boys that were selected a taste of what cadets go through. The teens start early in the morning with physical training, then have classes and hands-on experience on everything from firearms and defense tactics to lessons in the penal law.
"The biggest thing, the structure in the police academy, so they understand there's a reason why we do what we do, so maintaining discipline in the hallway, in the classroom, yes sir, no sir, things like that. We want to make the military protocol that was met with expectations," said Deputy Jonathan Payne.
The teens are among the most talented students in their schools. Marianna Santos is a sophomore at West Irondequoit High School. She is bilingual, plays several sports, has a 3.9 grade point average and has always thought about a career in law enforcement.
"I'm interested in forensics and technicians and ballistics and dusting for fingerprints. I'm a big science nerd but I'm interested in the other side of it with law enforcement too," Santos said.
Gates-Chili senior Blake Langdon said law enforcement and the military have been life-long dreams. He said this week has really opened his eyes to what the career is all about.
"Seems like a fun job. It's different every day and you can't predict what's going to happen. A little bit of danger, which is the fun part of it," said Langdon.
The school districts referred 90 students, and only 42 could get in. When Santos learned about the academy, she quickly filled out the application.
"I'm interested in a career in law enforcement and it intrigued me for an intense camp. I wanted to challenge myself," Santos said.
"We want to encourage young people to take an interest in law enforcement," said Monroe County Sheriff Patrick O'Flynn. "Hopefully, it'll bring a broader, diverser group of people coming into law enforcement. Not saying they all have to come to the sheriff's department, but this group of kids is really sharp and we'd love to have them look to us in the future."
O'Flynn said there are plans for another Teen Academy next year.
"This was the first year. It was more of a pilot for us, but judging by the response we're getting and the commitment these kids have shown, we think this is a great tool for the future," O'Flynn said.
The program is funded by the Monroe County Sheriff's Office Foundation.