(WTNH) — State Police Youth Week is officially underway at the Connecticut State Police Training Academy in Meriden.
A couple dozen high school students are experiencing their first full day Monday. There are other places where budding police officers and detectives can try solving mock crimes. But what is going on this week in Meriden is the real deal. It’s less like a summer camp, and more like boot camp.
The pressure is on for a group of cadets at a mock crime scene. There’s a dead body in a kitchen and they have to figure out what happened. To make it extra challenging, these cadets only just finished their junior year of high school.
“I like being put under pressure and I like challenges,” said Anastasia Silver of Tolland. “I need a challenge. In the future I need this, so it’s just going to help me get to my goals.”
For Silver, and many others here, those goals include a career in law enforcement, and state police academy youth week gives them a sense of what that’s like.
“We put them through a week of what it’s like to be at the State Police Training Academy,” explained Trooper First Class Christine Jeltema of the Connecticut State Police. “They go through PT, they do things like criminal investigation scenarios.”
As we’ve seen in previous youth weeks, they also live like real recruits, waking up to reveille at 5:15 AM. That’s not exactly what teens usually do in summer.
“Sir, I don’t wake up until 12:00. This is complicated,” said Silver.
“I really didn’t expect the sound off to come in,” said 17-year-old Edwin Melendez of Bridgeport. “It was a different environment, honestly.”
Melendez also did not expect to be stumbling around wearing goggles that mimic what it’s like to be drunk, but that is part of the training, too
“I am looking forward to being a law enforcement officer, either in Bridgeport or state,” Melendez said.
The State Police run youth week with the help of the American Legion, which is looking to educate kids for all kinds of careers.
“Not only for the ones that want to go into law enforcement, but those that want to go into the military, or even lawyers and everything to see the process from the other side,” said Steve Pintarich of the American Legion.
Back at the mock crime scene, Silver is clearly leading the investigation, which is good because she has her sights set on maybe the most elite unit in all of law enforcement.
“I want to join the [FBI’s] Behavioral Analysis Unit,” Silver said. “I want to study psychology and I want to major in it and law enforcement.”
This is the 19th year they’ve been doing a youth week, and every single year, at least one of those youths has gone on to be a state trooper. Many more have served in other police departments or in the military.
Free download: Access Connecticut breaking news, weather, stream newscasts live and more on-the-go with News 8 alerts directly to your phone.