Children shrieked, laughed and displayed stunned expressions Tuesday at the Victoria Community Center as they fired artificial “simunition” guns, some holding weapons for the first time.

Forty-two middle school-aged youths from throughout the Crossroads experienced a range of everyday police tactics during the Victoria Police Department Summer Youth Camp.

The weeklong camp introduces children to many serious aspects of the police department such as gun safety, SWAT team operations and drug resistance while they also have fun interacting with officers and other campers.

Children also had a chance to handle real equipment used by officers and the SWAT team, including riot shields and mechanical rams used to break down doors and windows.

Many of the children laughed as they tried to see whether they could hold the equipment.

“It’s not even that heavy,” said Jordyn Diaz, the daughter of Senior Officer Michael Leet, while holding the mechanical ram.

This is the first camp of its kind for the Victoria Police Department. When it was proposed by a member of the department, officers supported the idea, Senior Police Officer David Brogger said.

“It helps bridge the gap because we have a program for high school-aged kids called Explorers but nothing for younger kids,” Brogger said. “So this gives younger kids the opportunity to see what we do.”

Officers at the camp enjoyed the opportunity to interact with the community at a different and more relaxed level, he said.

“I don’t know who’s enjoying it more – the campers or the volunteer officers,” Brogger said.

Kendall Warner is a multimedia intern for the Victoria Advocate. She can be reached at kwarner@vicad.com or 361-574-1286 or @kendizzzall on twitter.

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Multimedia Intern

Kendall M. Warner is a multimedia intern with the Victoria Advocate. She is from Northern Virginia and is a recent graduate of the photojournalism program at Western Kentucky University.

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