Students Graduate from CSI Youth Cadet Academy in Richland Parish

RAYVILLE -- High schoolers from across Richland Parish are getting a leg up on a career in law enforcement.

On Friday afternoon, about 20 students graduated from the CSI Youth Cadet Academy -- put on by the Richland Parish Sheriff's Office, with assistance from the Ouachita Parish Sheriff's Office and Louisiana State Police.

At the Richland Parish Courthouse, the students were presented with certificates and a ceremony to commend their work in the program.

In the week-long program, students learned extensively about crime scene investigation -- from pulling fingerprints using dusting and glue, to casting footprints and photography.

Richland Parish sheriff Lee Harrell says the program has helped many students find a career path.

"It gave these students an opportunity to see a practical use for some of the maths and sciences," he said. "It has spurred an interest in the field, and we want to motivate them toward that a way, and help us out in the future."

Verlica Perry of Mangham High School says she wants to be a lawyer someday, and this week's academy gave her more inspiration to pursue such a career.

"We can go to a crime scene and take lots of evidence...Be sure you take lots of photos!" she said of the academy this week.

When she gets older, Leslie Sharbon of Riverfield Academy wants to work with a crime lab in Baton Rouge in the physical evidence department.

"I learned that everything you see on TV isn't real at all, it's completely different," she said.

State Representative Charles "Bubba" Chaney of District 19 came out the the graduation ceremony to show his support.

"This is something totally different, this is thinking outside the box, I commend Sheriff Harrell and his staff," said Chaney. "It will at least pique their interest, and anytime you're dealing with the arts, the sciences, it's going to educate them more and move them toward an interesting potential job in life."

In addition to learning about crime scene investigations, the students also organized and practiced in a mock trial, with witnesses named "Deputy Do-Right" and "Miley Cypress."

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