Saturday, June 13, 2009

Boys and Girls o' Laws

What a great experience for these kids.

Turnout high at first Junior Deputy Academy


Eleven-year-old Brianna Leyba can see herself patrolling New Braunfels as a law enforcement officer one day.

Brianna was one of 80 children who graduated from the Comal County Sheriff’s Office first Junior Deputy Academy, a weeklong program implemented by the department’s Community Resource Team (CRT) to teach kids about safety, citizenship and the inner workings of law enforcement and emergency response units.

Graduates, sheriff’s deputies and family members gathered Friday at Church Hill Middle School to celebrate the culmination of the camp, where participants were visited by New Braunfels Fire Department and EMS, Comal County SWAT team, air life helicopters, and New Braunfels Police Department K-9 units.

Deputy Adam Pastrano works crime prevention for the CRT and said the academy’s main goal was to stay connected with the youth of Comal County.

“I feel lucky to be in this line of work and that I get to work with the kids,” Pastrano said. “I enjoy being on the proactive side of law enforcement and this particular camp was very special because it was the first. Also, there are some kids who don’t have father figures or positive role models and this is a way for them to get to know us and to know we’re here for them.”

Lt. Mark Reynolds, CCSO public information officer, heads the CRT and said the department plans to have more camps like this one.

“This camp was a vision of ours for a long time,” Reynolds said. “There will be another camp June 22-26 at Bill Brown Elementary School, and we want to expand next year, offering programs in Spring Branch, Canyon Lake and Bulverde. We had so much interest in this camp and are glad to be able to do this for the kids.”

Brianna said she’s always had an interest in law enforcement and would like to be an animal control officer.

“I had lots of fun at the camp and I made new friends,” Brianna said. “I would tell any other kids looking for something to do during summer vacation that this is definitely the best thing.”

Brianna’s father, Juan Leyba, is a CCSO detective and has worked with the department for 17 years.

Leyba and his wife, Mari, said they were proud of their daughter and all of the children who participated in the first Junior Deputy Academy.

“For the sheriff’s office to do this for the kids is amazing,” Mari Leyba said. “Everyday Brianna would come home and tell us how much she enjoyed the camp and all the activities. There is nothing like hands-on experience and the sheriff’s office is doing a great thing.”