Amherst County sheriff's summer program sees growth, builds relationship with children

Sheriff says numbers have doubled, with 40+ kids signed up for CSI Camp

AMHERST, Va. – The CSI, Crime Scene Investigations Camp, put on by the Amherst County Sheriff's Office, teaches children the fundamentals of analyzing a crime scene. For two weeks, high school and middle school-aged kids learn a variety of topics.

 “We went to Sweet Briar today to test different things, to test different things with DUI, and we’ve been paintballing,” seventh grader Will Carver said.

On Wednesday, deputies are teaching these 12- and 13-year-olds about gun safety.

 The program has been going on for several years. This time, the sheriff said their numbers have doubled, going from 20 kids last year to more than 40.

 “It’s my staff that does the work here and the resource officers here, (are) the ones putting the class on. And it builds a good relationship with the children, the schools, the resource officers do. That’s something we really need,” Sheriff E.W. Viar said.

 Just this year, the department was on the verge of losing a school resource officer at Monelison Middle School, but a $43,000 grant came in time to help the department keep that officer.

 “We’re not there as disciplinarians in the school. That’s not our job. We’re there to protect the students and the staff. But we want the children to make a bond with us, that they can talk to us,” Viar said.

 It’s a good learning experience Will said. “You get to learn that they’re not the bad guys," he said. "Because you get to learn that they’re not the bad guys even though some people might think they’re mean. They’re actually the nice one.”