Youth Programs

BearTrax

BearTrax is an overnight camp and mentorship program that is designed to enhance relationships between police officers and youth and provides role models that help a child develop socially and emotionally. Mentors help kids learn to understand and communicate their feelings, to relate to their peers, and to develop positive relationships with other adults. Through the BearTrax Camp, mentors will attempt to instill children with a healthy sense of importance and self-confidence. They will be taught communication skills, conflict management and a sense of respect for others. The Camp will reinforce important social lessons, where entertaining activities will be used to focus on topics such as physical fitness, bullying, anger management, first aid, personal safety, gang awareness, peer pressure, cyber safety, team building, character building and community services. School administrators will continue to be the primary source for identifying students who would most benefit from the BearTrax Camp and who are transitioning from elementary school to middle school.

Collision Avoidance Training

The Collision Avoidance Training (C.A.T.) program is an advanced defensive driving and vehicle control program for licensed teenage drivers ages 16-20 years old. The one-day program (8.5 hours) is designed to provide young drivers with the knowledge and understanding of vehicle dynamics.

The first section of the program is devoted to two (2) hours of classroom instruction. This session gives students a better understanding of why the vehicle responds the way it does and prepares the students for the behind-the-wheel exercise on the driving course.

The second section consists of six (6.5) hours of behind-the-wheel training. This course provides practical exercises that demonstrate how the vehicle responds in a given situation and how to regain control of the vehicle. The driving skills addressed in the program are: evasive maneuvers, threshold/emergency braking, forward serpentine, cornering, backing, reverse serpentine, and skid and off-road recovery.

During the behind-the-wheel training, students operate their own vehicles. Prior to the start of the training, each vehicle is inspected by an instructor to ensure that the vehicle is in good operational condition. Then each student, accompanied by an instructor (Howard County Police Officer), begins practicing the different driving skills/maneuvers. Each student must successfully complete each driving skill/maneuver in order to receive a certificate of completion. If the student does not satisfactorily complete the course, they are given the option of coming to another session for no additional cost.

The cost of the program is $95 and registration must be done in advance.

For further information or to register, please call 410-313-3216 or email catprogram@howardcountymd.gov. Note there is no online registration for the C.A.T. program.

NOTE: 2020 schedule impacted by COVID, contact us or check back for updates.

Community Athletic Program

The Community Athletic Program, or CAP, consists of a traveling trailer filled with sports gear, games and video game equipment and staffed by school resource officers. The concept is for police to engage with at-risk youth in areas where young people congregate during the summer months. The CAP is deployed to neighborhoods where youth gather – usually unsupervised – and offers productive activities with an aim to deter crime and gang involvement. As an added benefit, the program fosters positive relationships between youth and police. Activities include basketball, baseball, flag football, floor hockey, tennis, board games, and video games.

NOTE: 2020 schedule impacted by COVID, contact us or check back for updates.

Explorer Post 1952

Explorer Post 1952 offers young people an opportunity to learn about law enforcement and serve the community. Exploring is a worksite-based program and is designed to help youth gain insight into a career in law enforcement. Howard County Police Explorer Post 1952 offers experiential learning with fun, hands-on activities that promote growth and development. Explorers develop leadership and teamwork skills, preparing them to enter college or the workforce, while serving the community and enhancing public safety.

Minimum qualifications:

  • At least 14 years old and have completed the eighth grade or 15 - 20 years old
  • Howard County resident
  • Maintain at least a C average
  • Upstanding citizen
  • No criminal background
  • Parental permission
  • Recommendations

Duties:

  • Direct traffic and control parking at various county events
  • Fingerprint children at special events
  • Participate in crime prevention activities

Benefits:

  • Learn police procedures, tactics and skills
  • Gain insight into a future career in law enforcement
  • Earn community service hours for high school and college
  • Ride along with police officers on patrol
  • Compete against other Explorers in regional and national events

P.L.E.D.G.E. Summer Leadership Camps

P.L.E.D.G.E. (pride, leadership, education, diversity, gang resistance, evaluation) Summer Leadership Camp is a free, one-week program designed to help students entering the ninth grade develop leadership skills. Through a series of discussions and practical activities, participants learn the value of teamwork and skills that foster leadership. Lessons and activities challenge their ability to make critical decisions, focus on core beliefs and values, recognize diversity and work toward a common goal. One highlight of the camp is a field trip with Terrapin Adventures, where campers participate in confidence-building activities. Campers navigate obstacle courses, play games and complete tasks designed to challenge the group to work together. If you know of a student who would benefit from the camp, please submit his or her name for consideration to any School Resource Officer.

For questions, contact PFC Willingham at 410-313-2610 or swillingham@howardcountymd.gov.

NOTE: 2020 schedule impacted by COVID, contact us or check back for updates.

School Resource Officers

The goal of the School Resource Officer (SRO) program is to build positive relationships with students and staff while providing a safe school environment and deterrence to crime.  SROs ensure protection of students and staff and provide positive support for students through mentoring.

In addition to improving security, carefully selected, well-trained SROs bridge gaps between youth and law enforcement, creating positive impressions that transcend the school environment. These officers also help at-risk youth change behaviors that might otherwise lead to involvement with the criminal justice system. An SRO is a school community’s resident expert on emergency planning and response. As such, an SRO aids in the creation and use of effective emergency plans.

ROLE OF SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICERS

  • Promote overall safety and security on campus.
  • Facilitate daily positive interactions and mentoring with students and staff to set a positive example for acceptable behavior by showing respect and consideration of others and modeling methods for handling stressful situations and resolving conflicts.
  • Use their experience and expertise about the law to teach young adults in the classroom setting on law-related blocks of instruction.  
  • Investigate and assist in stopping the formation and allure of gangs.
  • Participate in structured, after-school programs that promote community oriented policing strategies and positive student behavior.
  • Act as a resource with respect to delinquency prevention.
  • Serve as a liaison between the HCPSS and the HCPD.
  • Coach sports at the high school and/or youth level.  Currently there are 19 SROs assigned to schools in Howard County, 15 of them serve as coaches in various youth programs. They also sponsor basketball tournaments at their assigned schools, often using their own money for fees and uniforms. 

SROs continually promote the HCPD’s youth programs to parents, staff and students to include, but not limited to:

  • P.L.E.D.G.E Leadership Camp
  • Community Athletic Program (C.A.P.) mobile summer program
  • BEARTRAX Program, including a week-long camp in August for incoming 6th graders.  
  • Youth Police Academy
  • Explorer Post Program
  • Police Cadet Program
  • Youth Advisory Council
  • Diversion Program
  • Teen Court

Middle School SROs are involved in the afterschool programs and assisting with investigations and security as needed.

SRO CLASS INSTRUCTION

SROs assist in teaching blocks of instruction in various classes:

  • Government Classes: Topics covered include bullying, search and seizure, juvenile and adult law, constitutional law, and police and community relations.
  • Health and Safety Classes:  Topics covered include drug and alcohol abuse, mental health and suicide prevention, internet safety classes, vaping dangers, sexual and physical abuse of juveniles, and child exploitation.
  • Driver Safety:  At the high school level, every SRO teaches a block on driver safety at least 2 to 3 times a year.  This class is required before any student can get their parking permit to be allowed to park on school property.

SRO TRAINING

Currently, ALL HCPD officers—including SROs—receive training on crisis intervention, fair and impartial policing, cultural awareness, youth services, mental health, active shooter, intellectual and developmental disabilities, critical incident stress management, verbal de-escalation techniques and active listening, LGBTQ, autism and hearing impairments awareness.

Additionally, SROs receive specialized training on:

  • Threat response to prevent school violence
  • School safety and emergency operations plans
  • Diversity, ethics, students with special needs, bullying and social media
  • School law, informal counseling and mentorship
  • Understanding the teen brain, drugs and alcohol, violence and victimization
  • Sex trafficking, youth trends and school culture
  • School instruction and guest speaking

SROs also receive a 40-hour certification through the National Association of School Resource Officers. 

The HCPD works with HCPSS to facilitate trainings on cultural proficiency, implicit bias and restorative justice.  In addition, the HCPD provides quarterly training, including:

  • Active shooter response 
  • Cellphone investigations and procedures 
  • Sexual and physical abuse of children 
  • Appropriate use of force, fair and impartial policing, and de-escalation techniques 

ACTIVE SHOOTER DRILLS

SROs receive specialized training in preparation for active shooters in the school environment. They also work with the HCPSS to ensure appropriate drills covering the response to an active assailant inside a school facility and outside a school facility are conducted regularly as part of the school lockdown drills.  The school system uses “Best Practice Considerations for Schools in Active Shooter and Other Armed Assailant Drills: Guidance from the National Association of School Psychologists and the National Association of School Resource Officers” to develop and appropriately explain drills to students at every developmental level.

ONGOING EFFORTS

The HCPD works closely with the HCPSS to continue to make schools and students safer by applying best practices and program modifications.  The SRO program is continuously refined to provide a safe learning environment, provide valuable resources to schools, foster positive relationships with youth, develop safe strategies to resolve problems and protect all students, so that they can reach their fullest potentials.

Station Tours

Attention all youth groups, scouts and student organizations! Want to see behind the scenes at HCPD?

Due to popular demand, the Howard County Police Department provides tours of the police station, 911 center, and county emergency operations center for organized youth groups who register in advance. Learn about fingerprinting and forensics, and how law enforcement operates in Howard County.

Request a tour by emailing Sgt. Brown (jebrown@howardcountymd.gov) with your:

  • Group name and size
  • Contact name and phone number
  • Requested date and time
  • Any scout badge requirements

NOTE: Group size of 15 or smaller preferred. Larger groups may be split to provide the best experience for all. Special considerations upon request.

Questions? Contact HCPD's Community Outreach Division at 410-313-2207 and ask for Youth Services.

Teen Court: A real justice program, by teens, for teens

Application deadline for the spring 2020 session has passed. 

We’re looking for teens to volunteer as participants in the Howard County Teen Court! Volunteers hear real juvenile misdemeanor cases and render dispositions to first-time offenders. Teens serve as members of the jury, and as the court clerk, they get service hours for participating.

Teen Court offers the opportunity to first-time juvenile offenders who live in Howard County to accept responsibility for their misdemeanor crimes without having to incur a criminal record. Teen volunteers will hear cases like theft, disorderly conduct, destruction of property, alcohol possession, and other non-violent offenses. Dispositions for the offenders may include community service, educational programs, essays and apology letters. The program has proven successful in reducing rates of repeat offenders in other jurisdictions.

If you live in Howard County and are a high school student (grades 9-12 and under the age of 18) and are interested in learning more about Howard County Teen Court, contact Katie Turner, Teen Court Coordinator, at kturner@howardcountymd.gov.

Youth Advisory Council

HCPD's brand NEW Youth Advisory Council is looking for members!

This new council is designed to provide youth with a safe and engaging environment to interact with local law enforcement. The group will meet monthly with members of the department.

Who can join? Howard County residents in 8th-12th grade.

What are the benefits?
• Earn student service hours
• Advise the Chief of Police on youth concerns
• Be a positive agent of change in your community, school or place of worship
• Attend free educational and social field trips
• Gain and strengthen life skills such as leadership, public speaking and social skills

How do I apply? Complete and return an application form.

Questions? Contact HCPD Youth Services by calling 410-313-2207 or via email: HCPD-YAC@howardcountymd.gov

Youth Police Academy

 

The Youth Police Academy is a free, one-week, overnight academy designed to help young people explore career and leadership opportunities, life skills and character education. Participants spend the week participating in law enforcement classroom instruction, practical applications and scenarios. Recruits participate in drill and ceremony, physical training, classroom instruction and practical exercises in patrol techniques, domestic violence, crime-scene processing and the execution of traffic stops. They also utilize a firearms simulator and participate in team-building exercises. The overnight accommodations include meals and uniform.

NOTE: 2020 schedule impacted by COVID, contact us or check back for updates.