Two Estacada High School students recently graduated from the American Legion Department of Oregon Junior Law Career Camp.
Gabriel Martinez and Nicholas Keller, two rising seniors at Estacada High School, attended the program from Aug. 4-10, at the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training Building in Salem.
Organized by the American Legion, Oregon State Police, Oregon Department of Public Safety, Oregon State Sheriffs' Association and Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police, the camp provides first-hand experiences into a career in law enforcement. This year, 35 high school students from around the state attended.
Both Keller and Martinez cited a longtime interest in the field.
"Ever since I was a young kid, I've always dreamed of being a police officer," Martinez said. "I feel like there are so many things wrong that I should be able to fix. I've always wanted to serve people."
"Since I was little I've wanted to help people in need. I really like the police officers I know," Keller added.
During the law enforcement camp, participants completed more than 100 hours of activity and study. The program combined physical fitness training with both classroom instruction and hands-on learning. Topics included criminal law, constitutional law, patrol procedures, criminal investigation procedures, traffic crash investigations, evidence gathering techniques, arrest techniques, taking fingerprints, testifying in court, public speaking, leadership skills, vehicle operating procedures, report writing, interviewing techniques, crisis intervention, use of control and firearms training.
Martinez said that one of the most meaningful parts of the experience was the flag ceremony every morning.
"We marched as a unit in front of the flag and stood in position as the flag was raised. Then we marched back to the main building," he said. "It was awesome and mind blowing each morning."
Keller enjoyed meeting with a K-9 unit.
"I like how smart the dogs were and how the trainers cared for them so well," he said.
Both Keller and Martinez are interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement after graduating from high school. Martinez plans on applying to be a cadet with the Gresham Police Department or the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office.
"It's definitely something I want to pursue in my career," Keller said. "I want to help people that really need help. When they're scared, I want to let them know it's OK."
Both encouraged any students interested in law enforcement to attend the camp next summer.
"Other than doing a ride along, this will probably be the best experience," Martinez said. "Even if you minimally think any form of law enforcement is something you want to do, you should check it out."