Bedford, VA - Police want kids to feel like they can come and talk to them if they need help. They used a fun event called Cop Camp 2013 Monday to accomplish their goal in Bedford.
The camp usually has 125 campers, but organizers didn't want to turn anyone away this year, making Cop Camp 2013 the biggest yet.
In their line of work, police officers tend to run into the same folks over and over again. This week, they don't mind the usual suspects. You'll find several repeat "attenders" among the 150 kids at Cop Camp.
"It was just really, really fun last year," said camper Chassity Alphin.
This is the 9th summer for the camp in Bedford. Town police and the county sheriff's office helped put it on together.
State Police also respond to the scene at Bedford Middle School to give tours of the mobile command unit.
"When we're on a call, if the police department that calls us wants to see what's going on, they can come in and watch the screen," said Lt. Todd Foreman.
The campers were allowed to get hands on with a bomb helmet and suit.
Organizers say Cop Camp is so successful because it gives kids the opportunity to see officers from a different point of view.
"Some of the officers, I thought they'd be real mean," said camper Thomas Dinwiddie. "They're pretty nice when you get to know them."
"A lot of people look at them and think that they're really scary, but they're really nice," Alphin said.
"They know they can come to us for help. We're just not the guys who come and arrest people. It's good to build that relationship," said Lt. Foreman.
"I want to be a game warden or one of the special ops people," Dinwiddie said.
Cop Camp is free and ends Friday with a mock crash. Campers will be given roles to play. One will get to call in a helicopter that will actually land at the middle school.