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Training Day: Bel Air's Finest Guide Explorers

Twenty-eight campers graduated from the Bel Air Police Youth Camp on July 1.

Harford County's youth recently learned what it takes to be a police officer. 

During a ceremony July 1 at the , 28 students graduated from the Bel Air Youth Police Camp. 

said during the graduation ceremony that the goal of the camp was to "simulate what happens at a police academy."

For one week, 10- to 14-year-old students learned everything from handcuffing and self-defense to working with police equipment, investigating a crime scene and riding Segways

Wearing red, orange, yellow and blue team shirts, the students marched into the Armory for their graduation ceremony, to an audience of about 30 parents, family members and other police officers. 

After shaking hands with the officers, each student stepped up to salute Matrangola, who congratulated the campers and handed them certificates. 

After a week of camp, some of the campers said they have aspirations of becoming a police officer when they're older.

"My dad is and I want to keep the family tradition going," Brandon Hopkins said.

Officers and Kayhla Hendren led the program, which ran from June 27 to July 1. At the beginning of the week, the students split into four teams and created a flag to represent their group. 

The morning of the graduation, Krause put together an obstacle course for the students: a 300-yard route that required the campers to run out to a police car, jump over a fence, search and clear a building and face an armed opponent. 

The campers enjoyed many of the week's activities, but learning to ride the Segways was a big hit. For Nicholas Gerace, the simulated conflicts and situations that the officers put together was his favorite part of the week. 

"You would be in a scenario and it would be on TV and you'd have a laser gun and you'd have to figure out what would happen or if you should shoot the person," Gerace said. 

, a Bel Air Town Commissioner and retired police officer, said the campers witnessed the police department's daily responsibilities. He encouraged the students to share what they learned with their friends, since he said many are critical of law enforcement officers. 

"Thank you for taking a week out of your summer to learn what police officers do," Hopkins said. 

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