Royal Oak Police Department to host youth academy this summer

By: Taylor Christensen | Royal Oak Review | Published February 21, 2024


ROYAL OAK— The Royal Oak Police Department is now taking applications for its first Youth Police Academy, which will be held 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 22-26.

The no-cost academy, designed for students in the seventh and eighth grades, will include many law-enforcement training activities to provide insight into the daily responsibilities of police officers.

Officer Jessica Reece came up with the idea, taking some notes from other departments that have done academies in the past.

“It was probably a year ago now, and it was brought up in one of our training sessions. I loved that idea, so I started doing research on it,” she said. “I knew some other departments had done it in surrounding areas, so I contacted the officers or sergeants in charge and had them send me all of the information on what they do.”

With the help of other communities, she was able to pick out the best activities for the Royal Oak students and begin planning the entire program.

Reece was sure to choose activities that are appropriate, as “police work can be pretty intense.”

Sgt. Ryan Spangler is overseeing the program and said that Police Chief Michael Moore “really likes it, and thinks it will be good outreach for the community.”

Spangler said there will be four to five other officers helping out with the academy. One of those officers will be Antonio Lipscomb, the current Royal Oak school resource officer.

Detectives, evidence technicians, K-9 officers and other special guests will be attending the academy on certain days throughout the week to teach about their specialized roles.

Spangler said he believes this will be a good opportunity to show the younger generation that police officers are nothing to be afraid of.

“Kids are moldable at this age, and I think this allows us an opportunity to show them that, you know, police are human and we have families, and we joke just like them,” he said.

Reece also said that this program will give the Police Department an opportunity to get familiar with the students of Royal Oak, especially with the stigma surrounding police work.

“Depending on what they see on social media, there isn’t a great light right now on police. I think this is going to help build that relationship and help them see that we are also just people and are here to help them,” she said.

Each day the kids in the academy will do a different activity.

“It gives us an opportunity to show them what we do, and our goal is to teach them some life skills throughout the week,” Spangler said.

The kids will be going through a series of topics that the department has put together.

“We tailored it to our age group, and we also planned it around what kinds of crime we deal with in the city as well,” Reece said.

Topics will include team building, drunken driving awareness, defensive tactics, handcuffing, a K-9 demonstration, firearms safety, interactive learning objectives, criminal investigation, crime scene investigation, fire safety, hazmat suits and basic first aid.

The academy is designed to immerse the participants in situations where they will learn life skills as well as what not to do as they grow into their adult years.

“We are going to have some golf carts here and let the kids wear drunk goggles,” Spangler said. “We’re going to set up a course and show them how impairment can affect your driving.”

As the school resource officer, Lipscomb has been working closely with the Police Department to help plan the academy. He has also been putting out the word to the students about the application process.

Lipscomb said a program like this can help to benefit the youth by teaching them various skills, as well as keep them active.

“We are going to get them running through different training scenarios that we go through and see how they will react to it,” he said. “We are also going to be advising them on how we take care of the laws and what they can and can’t do within the scope of the law.”

Getting a glimpse of the Police Department will potentially prevent future crime, according to Spangler.

“They are going to see what a jail cell is, and the back of a police car, you know, all of the reasons why you don’t want to come here,” he said.

Spangler said the first day will take place in a gym where the students will be doing a ropes course to help them get to know each other and the officers.

The Police Department is hoping for a good turnout; this being the first year, it is hard to say how many will be attending.

Spangler, however, is hopeful and said that there have already been a few applications and questions sent in by parents.

“You know, kids that age want to do stuff they see on TV, I guess. I think we are going to get a handful of kids who, at this point in their life, say they are interested in being a police officer or law enforcement in some shape or way,” he said.

The application can be found on the city of Royal Oak website,, and applications must be submitted by April 15. After reviewing the applications, the department will choose 25 students to participate.