December 7, 2015 (Kansas City, Kan.): No cell phones allowed. No pencils, keys, or anything that could fall out of your pocket and be used as a weapon.
“Nothing is allowed in your pocket and this is for your own safety,” stated Officer Santiago Vasquez, a Student Resource Officer at Bishop Ward High School and Senior Master Patrolman with the Kansas City, Kansas, Police Department. Santiago was explaining protocol to thirty students who were about to tour the Wyandotte County Jail as part of the Junior Police Academy at Bishop Ward.
Students in the Junior Police Academy aren’t your typical high school student, but rather students who have an interest in law enforcement or the judicial system. This field trip gave them the chance to see a part of that system that not very many civilians see.
“The field trip was engaging. That's what I wanted to achieve with this trip. I wanted them to appreciate what they have while hopefully gaining interest in a potential career with law enforcement,” said Officer Vasquez.
Students entered the jail through the Sally Port, a secured entryway where the first door opens. The students enter into a waiting area where the door closes and then a second door opens allowing entrance into the jail. All of this is controlled remotely by a command center within the jail.
Once inside, the students had a brief tour of the jail, starting where prisoners are booked. They then walked through the female prison block and one of the men’s cell blocks.
Students had the opportunity to hear from Linda Hendrix, Sheriff's Administrative Manager, as she discussed the financial and administrative side of a jail. They learned that operating a jail requires planning to ensure things will run smoothly.
After the presentation, the students were surprised with lunch, where they got the opportunity to eat the same meal the prisoners ate that day. Reactions from the students varied from disbelief to delicious.
Students finished the day with a tour of the mental health ward, the medical facility, prisoner cells and a security tower.
Bishop Ward would like to thank everyone in the Sheriff’s Office and the Wyandotte County Jail for making this field trip possible and providing an incredible educational experience.