Four Rim Country teens voluntarily spent a week of their summer vacation getting yelled at and treated like dirt.
The four cadets were among 40 who graduated from a weeklong leadership academy designed to teach teens about the benefits and hardships involved in a law enforcement career.
The American Legion Law Enforcement Career Academy, or ALLECA, is sponsored by the Arizona Department of Public Safety and is one of fifteen such programs in the country. The academy has been working the 14- to 19-year-old cadets from all over Arizona into law enforcement-type shape for more than 20 years.
Zachery Hornung, Matthew Phillips, Clayten White and Ezra White graduated on July 22 from the seven-day academy, which closely imitates the four-to-six month regular police academy.
"Arizona has the best (academy)," Gila County Sheriff's Deputy Colt White said. "It's the only one with a realistic police academy in one week."
Demands of ALLECA include intense physical training, as well as training in the areas of report writing, building searches, high-risk traffic stops and defensive tactics.
"It's very paramilitary," White said. "They hit them hard. It's a different scenario, but the same treatment."
The academy takes place west of Flagstaff at Camp Navajo, an Arizona National Guard facility. Various law enforcement agencies participate in the training of the cadets.
"It is designed to give them a feel for law enforcement," White said. "If nothing else, it gives them a respect for law enforcement."
White said that many of the cadets go on to pursue military or law enforcement careers, but some cadets enter the academy only to measure their toughness.
"To complete this course is quite an accomplishment," he said.
Even though the academy was challenging, the foursome banged through it. Clayten White even received an award for being the fittest cadet.
"It really built my self-confidence," Ezra White said.
"I've never been challenged like that in my life and I'm proud of my accomplishment," Zachery Hornung added.
Academies are held in the summer but times vary for each academy. For information about ALLECA, contact DPS Sgt. Dan Palmer at (602) 223-2553 or e-mail academy director Frank Whitten at firstname.lastname@example.org.