On June 8, a group of students from Poston Butte High School in San Tan Valley got together for an odd demonstration: a fake school shooting. The goal was to teach the students about the criminal justice system and the different people who work in it.
When a man in a ski mask ran into the school’s atrium and pretended to fire a fake gun, the kids kept their distance. Four volunteers who were playing people who had been shot were covered in fake blood. The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office searched the room, and a team of EMTs came to help.
Pinal County Attorney Kent Volkmer said, “There are a lot of resources coming together, and it’s really in the best interest of the kids.”
At the Youth CSI Summer Camp, put on by the Pinal County Attorney’s Office, about 50 high school students got a close look at jobs in law enforcement. People from all over the country came to learn about different parts of a criminal case over the course of three days.
Volkmer said that the goal of the program is to help students “understand how the justice system really works” and get them interested in a job in law enforcement.
After a rough school year in Arizona, school union leaders and the district hope to move on.
The program is in its second year. It started when Poston Butte teacher Kayla Kully made a forensic science class.
Kully, whose background is in law enforcement, said that her course gives students who are interested in crime scene analysis “hands-on” experience. Kully’s class has been taken by a lot of the campers. The Youth CSI Summer Camp gives more Pinal County kids outside of Poston Butte the chance to learn about forensics.
The tweet below verifies the news:
Pinal County teens explore law enforcement careers during three-day summer camp https://t.co/BqkBoYv5Zc
— azcentral (@azcentral) June 10, 2023
The summer camp started on Wednesday with a class that taught the kids the basics of forensics. After the fake killing on Thursday, they looked around the school for clues. The sheriff’s deputies then caught a suspect and questioned him. On the last day of camp, there was a practice trial at the Pinal County Superior Court. Some of the campers played the roles of lawyers and judges.
Volkmer said that it would usually take between 18 months and 3 years for a case like this to go to trial, but the students only had to wait a day to see witnesses take the stand. The fast-paced schedule helps people understand the many responsibilities of jobs in law enforcement.
“I want kids to understand what’s involved in a job like that before they decide to do it,” Kully said.
Cody Daer, a Pinal County Sheriff’s Office youth officer, came back to the summer program this year. He said that it has shown him how law enforcement works from different points of view. He said that one day he wants to be a K-9 cop.
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This is the first time the camp has put on a school killing. Last year, the show looked at a situation where a drug deal led to gun violence. Kully said that her kids can relate to the school shooting scenario because they have done active shooter drills a lot.
“Having a shooter inside a school is a very sensitive situation,” Kully said. “But that’s how things are in 2023.”
Students could talk to a certified counselor, Laura Wood, about what they had just seen and felt while collecting forensic evidence for the trial. She said that stressful events can change someone’s daily life in many ways.
Wood said, “You don’t have to be shot to have trauma.”
On the last day of the class, a group of students decided that the defendant was guilty on all four counts.
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