EVERETT — It took only a few questions for the witness to admit she’d heard gunshots.
“Officer” Michael Barbee already had seen the liquor stashed in the empty locker at Eisenhower Middle School in south Everett on Tuesday.
He had seen the knocked over trash can, and the discarded purse, reported stolen just hours before.
And now, he had gunshots. He sighed aloud.
“We got a crime here, a crime scene here,” the 13-year-old said.
Barbee was one of about 20 middle- and high-schoolers who spent this week learning about police work at the annual Everett Police Department Junior Police Academy.
The educational day-camp is part of the department’s “Project Impact,” which aims to help police make positive connections with young people in the community.
On Tuesday at the academy, that meant teaching kids about how police patrol beats, and how to look for anything askew.
A beat cop must know what doors should be closed, what lights should be off and who should be where and when, Eisenhower school resource officer Shea Alexander told the students.
Their first day on patrol, the kids got a murder.
The clues were scattered down the hall and out onto the basketball courts.
They grilled witnesses about a potential suspect.
“Is he a bad guy? Like, does he do stuff?” student Harrison Buck asked. “Has he ever gotten into trouble with the police?”
In the cafeteria, the students found bloody footprints on butcher paper leading up to the stage, and a dead body, played by a mannequin.
One student measured the bloody footprints with his hands and then compared the hand-measurement against his friends’ shoes.
After they checked out the crime scene, the kids went back to the library to huddle.
Participants for the Junior Police Academy are chosen by Everett school-resource officers in the Everett and Mukilteo school districts, youth services Sgt. Tim Reeves said.
He listened as the students swapped theories about the suspect in their killing, and his motives.
“Yesterday, they didn’t know each other,” Reeves said. “Today, they’re working as a team.”
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org