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Sheriff’s boot camp forges bonds between Tri-State kids and law enforcement

“We want them to have a positive interaction, to let them know they can come to us”
Published: Jul. 30, 2021 at 6:22 PM EDT
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ADAMS COUNTY, Ohio (WXIX) - More than a hundred kids are spending their week attending the annual Adams County Sheriff’s Office Boot Camp.

The three-day camp is designed to encourage kids to stay away from criminal activity and drug use. But they also learn respect, build friendships and form bonds with deputies.

“We do care about them,” Sgt. Randy Walters said. “And it’s not just taking someone to jail. We’re people and we want to help them.”

Walters is one of 20 law enforcement officers helping out at the boot camp.

“This is a lot about prevention,” he said. “There’s a lot of rehabilitation services for people out there once they’ve taken the wrong step, made a huge mistake and did something wrong. We feel prevention is the best way to get kids before. We found in our area, we’ve done some studies, and the average child uses drugs by 13 years old, so we feel we got to get them before they start.”

The dangers of drug use and gun violence are major topics of discussion.

“I will never touch another gun again,” Michael Lewis, 14, said. “It’s not fun at all. Nothing to brag about.”

Lewis felt it was important to come to the camp and share his story because it could save lives.

“I was cleaning a gun and I took the clip out and I pulled it back, there was nothing in it,” he said. “Somehow, I don’t it went off, but I laid it down and it went off into my knee.”

Lewis is now navigating through the camp on crutches as well as in a wheelchair.

“It happened so fast, I just... It didn’t hurt at all. I was that scared,” he said.

Others also know the importance of staying out of trouble.

“Just stay away from the wrong people,” Desirae Richardson, 14, said, “because you can be in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Richardson was introduced to gun violence at a young age.

“We used to live in Hamilton and there used to be bullets flying through our dors and stuff,” she said.

OSP Batavia Post Commander Robert Hayslip says the boot camp is about giving kids like Richardson and Lewis a good impression of law enforcement.

“We want them to have a positive interaction, to let them know they can come to us if they need help or if they’re experiencing difficulties, in school or whatever the case may be, they can come to us,” Hayslip said.

The boot camp wraps up on Saturday.

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