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Cop Camp 2012 lets campers get up close with police

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From blasting caps to fingerprints, area youth learn about police work

By John Barnhart

    Bedford City Police, with help from other area law enforcement agencies, held its eighth annual Cop Camp last week.

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    The camp brought 110 children together to learn how police do their work. It featured physical activities along with chances to see what a police officer carries in the trunk of his car. There was also a visit from a rescue helicopter, a simulated vehicle extraction and a police dog demonstration.
    One of the noisiest sessions was when Garland Snead of the Virginia State Police paid the camp a visit. Snead is a State Police bomb disposal expert and he set off several small explosions. The emphasis of his presentation was to convince the children to leave this stuff alone.

    “The main focus of this is to show how dangerous these things are,” he said.
    He makes his point. One demonstration was to explode a blasting cap in a paint can, at a safe distance. Shrapnel from the blast perforated the can, showing the youth that one of these would injure their friends if it went off.
    Then, he showed what would happen to their hand if one exploded while they are holding it. Snead used a pig’s foot as a stand-in for a human hand. He showed them the foot before the blast and then after it was shredded by the blast.
    Snead said that the state police receive calls to deal with all sorts of explosive devices including live hand grenades.
    “We average four or five a year,” he said.
    The grenades turn up when a World War II or Korean War vet dies. Family members going through his effects discover a grenade, originally brought home as a souvenir, in a closet or shoebox.
    Bedford Police Officer Joseph Dooley, who served as the Cop Camp coordinator this year, said the idea of the camp is to build relationships between youth and the police. They want the youth to see police officers as being approachable.
    “The big thing we want is to build an increased relationship with the community,” he said.