NANTICOKE — They laughed as they donned the gear — full Kevlar vest with ceramic plates and shoulder guards, Kevlar and metal shield with built-in lights, Kevlar helmet and a fake gun with real-weapon heft.
But for some of the youngsters attending Luzerne County Community College’s “CSI camp” this week, the 70-plus pounds of armor likely was close to their own weight.
“It’s cool!” Kayleigh Gavlick, 12, said after wearing the equipment long enough to really get a feel for the sheer weight of it all. And yes, she added, she was able to lift the shield all the way up — the equivalent of doing a one-armed bicep curl with 30 or more pounds in a gym — so she could peer through the bulletproof glass.
Well, mostly lifted it. A closer look at photos suggests one of the Kingston Police officers providing the training may have been helping just a tad.
A dozen students ages 12 through 14 paid $125 to attend the week-long camp, held mornings from 9 a.m. to noon. Kingston Police provide much of the gear, videos and lessons, which Chief Michael Krzywicki said cover a lot of real-world situations beyond the opportunity to armor up.
After a video explaining the importance of rapid police response in active shooter situations that included a breakdown of events during the Columbine shootings in Colorado, the police took the students through a simulation using some college classrooms, showing proper approach and room-checking techniques.
Other lessons through the week include a K-9 demonstration, a simulated crime scene to learn how to collect evidence and lift fingerprints, a mock investigation of a crime including voice stress analysis and interviewing suspects ready to confess, and explanations of narcotics raids, complete with demonstrations of how to test substances suspected of being illegal drugs.
Gavlick, of Larksville, said she signed up for the camp because it “seems cool to see what police do.” While she didn’t rule out a career in law enforcement, she said she doesn’t know what she wants to do for a living.
Joseph Delaney, a Wilkes-Barre resident whose father is a city firefighter (“Not the chief Delaney, though,” he stressed), was more confident the camp provided information useful in his future career.
“I’m going to be an NCIS agent,” he beamed, referring to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, a real-world entity made famous through a popular TV show about a fictional team that investigates and thwarts threats to the the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.
Well, come to think of it, he does have a bit of that Mark Harmon look.