The First Cadets
My name is Phillip LeConte; I am the Executive Director of the Junior Police Academy. Kelly LeConte, my sister, is our Program Director.
Twenty years ago, back in 1992, the Junior Police Academy got started by tapping into a simple, yet powerful idea: when you bring police officers and kids together, you get better police officers and better kids.
In this regard, you could say that my sister Kelly and I are true believers.
Our father, Robert LeConte, served on our hometown police department, and together with our wonderful mother, guided us throughout his life. It is something of an understatement to say that we all are better for the experience.
In a sense, Kelly and I were the first JPA cadets - no t-shirts, but plenty regiment.
I can't say that it was always easy. It wasn't.
Law enforcement officers work in shifts, and family life is often in the shadow of its demands. Still, I would not trade those experiences. They have informed and enriched my life in ways that have become easier to define over the years.
Since our father's death in 2000, my sister and I have found great solace in working with police officers across the country. Watching these men and women work with young people invariably reminds me of that fundamental virtue Dad furnished Kelly and I - namely a rock-solid, uncomplicated anchor upon which we could always rely.
In today's world of virtual connectedness, young people, now more than ever, need to engage with someone unambiguously authentic. That is the promise of the Junior Police Academy - to bring young people and police officers together and then stand back.
The essential quality of what happens next is part of the living legacy of Robert LeConte, our father.
Kelly and I extend our gratitude to all of you who have helped keep it alive.