The Weatherly Police Department is bridging the gap between its officers and local youth, amid a nationwide police recruiting shortage.

Sergeant Michael Bogart hopes building interest at a young age will encourage kids to take on careers in law enforcement once they're older.

"In the country we have a national crisis with anybody who wants to come into law enforcement. So one of my projects I did was 'How are we gonna fix that?'" said Sgt. Bogart. 

Bogart graduated from the FBI National Academy in June. While there, he developed an idea for a Junior Police Academy.

"Start growing interest when they're younger and as they're coming up through the ages and they come up and graduate and they're going into the workforce or college, they have interest in being cops or going into law enforcement, corrections, firefighting, something like that," said Sgt. Bogart.

Now he's bringing that idea to life back home in Weatherly.

"Start from the basics, the first couple classes will be learning law enforcement, learning what we do, what our job's all about and then we get into the fun stuff...we start taking field trips if we can, seeing the technology in the job, seeing what we do on a daily basis," said Sgt. Bogart.

Beyond a learning experience, it will be an opportunity to build positive relationships between officers and kids in the community.

"See our firearms training simulators we do, how we handle evidence and processing and putting down the chemicals to pick up fingerprints and blood and stuff like that," said Sgt. Bogart.

The Junior Academy will start next month and run through May. The class will meet twice a month and kids ages 12 to 19 can apply. Right now, the program is only open to students in the Weatherly Area School District.

"Maybe it grows to where we can bring people from outside the area in but right now I'm worried about Weatherly. I want to take care of the Weatherly residents and Weatherly kids," said Sgt. Bogart.

The endeavor is being funded by the Weatherly Police Officers' Association.

"Hopefully in five, six, seven years kids that are coming out and graduating, maybe we can grab some of those kids and bring them back to our department and put them on the force and actually help the community they live in," said Sgt. Bogart.

Sgt. Bogart also has plans to roll out a Citizens' Police Academy for adults next year.

An information session about the Junior Academy is set for October 10th at 6:00 p.m. A final location is still being determined.

You can check the Weatherly Police Department Facebook page for updates and pick up applications at the police department.