Local citizens will soon have the opportunity to learn firsthand how Sedalia Police Department officers are trained during the 2015 Citizen Police Academy.
SPD will host the 10-week course starting Sept. 8 to offer citizens the chance to learn more about how police officers do their jobs. It has been several years since the program was offered in Sedalia, but SPD Sgt. Brad Beard said they decided it was too important, so they are beginning to host it again.
“Everybody wants to know what we do and why we do it,” he said. “People say, ‘You cant do that,’ well here’s what we do and why we can or can’t do it. We will answer those questions. Some say we make the rules, but no, we follow the rules. We may have some boundaries so we can get stuff accomplished, like saying ‘stand over there,’ but it’s for a reason. If (citizens) want a change, they can learn why we do it.”
Topics covered during the academy include hiring and training, use of force, handling disturbances, criminal investigation, building searches, patrol procedures, drug investigations, and traffic stops. Participants will hear from officers in a variety of roles at SPD as well as receive hands-on training. According to a release, graduation from the academy “puts the academy members in the roles of officer, investigator, evidence officer and supervisor to investigate a staged crime scene.”
Beard said the course will start with learning how the police department is set up and how new officers are trained.
“From there we’re going to get into everything from disturbances — how we handle them — then a mock disturbance where the participants actually do stuff,” Beard explained. “We’ll do traffic stops, building searches. We’ll get into evidence — how to get it, how easy it is, how hard it is. We’ll let them do that. We’ll actually let them do what we do for training with laser shot, and laser shot is scenarios, shoot/don’t shoot type things. They actually hold the weapon and it has a laser and they shoot the screen. We’ll show you ‘here’s where you shot, why didn’t you, why did you — same things we’re always asked.”
Citizens will also participate in a ride-along during the course. Beard said they may not be able to get out of the vehicle, but the officer will turn on their video feed so the participant can hear what’s going on.
Beard said SPD officers worked together to update the Citizen Police Academy manual, which hadn’t been changed since 2003.
“We got our people to write down ‘here’s what I do.” It’s going to be put in a manual form and they will be the ones presenting it. You get to ask them questions,” he said. “The only rules we were given was make it fun and be truthful. According to our chief (John DeGonia), we’re going to tell the truth and nothing but the truth.”
So far less than five people have signed up to take the class, and Beard said they are hoping for a class of about 30.
The three-hour class will take place once a week for 10 weeks, starting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8. Participants must be 18 years old or older, and can’t have any major misdemeanors or felonies. It is free and open to the public.
Applications are available at the front desk at the Sedalia Police Department, and should be turned in by Friday, Sept. 4. For more information, contact Beard at 660-826-1000.
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1482 or @NicoleRCooke.