The Mount Airy Police Department has extended its “family” with the graduation of the latest Citizens Police Academy class.
Certificates of completion were presented to the 42 participants during a meeting of the city board of commissioners last week. Police Chief Dale Watson said that is the largest group in the history of the local Citizens Police Academy, which has been under way for 12 years.
To date, 262 participants have gone through the two-month, weekly program that allows local residents a behind-the-scenes look at various law enforcement operations.
“I think that’s a testament to the community and the fact that citizens want to get involved,” Watson said of the popularity of the annual Citizens Police Academy.
The program includes the opportunity to ride on patrol with city officers and also learn about drug investigations, firearms, searches and seizures, criminal investigation and police-dog operations. Often, sessions are led by personnel who work in the respective areas, with the program part-lecture, part hands-on, Watson said.
Calling Citizens Police Academy graduates an “extended family” of the MAPD, Watson said the program serves to build strong relationships between officers and the community.
The most recent graduates reflect people of all ages and included husband-and-wife and mother-and-daughter teams. The group generally met each week on Monday night, beginning on Jan. 2.
Class members got much enjoyment from their experiences, along with being educated, they said during Thursday’s graduation ceremony when each had the opportunity to comment.
“This course is a lot of fun, very eye-opening,” said one, Steven A. Simpson.
Most said the program provided a greater understanding of what police face on a daily basis.
“It gives you an appreciation for what the police officers do,” said another class member, Commissioner Scott Graham, who was joined by fellow board member Shirley Brinkley. Both decided to enroll in the class after being sworn in as commissioners in December.
“They have a big responsibility,” said another classmate, Mary A. Crotts.
James W. Collins Jr. referred to the “dedication” and “passion” he observed among city officers regarding their work.
“After one or two nights in this workshop, you understand what capable, professional” officers Mount Airy has in its ranks, said James F. Kemp, a retired local educator.
Though Bill Pendleton has a disability that requires him to be accompanied by a service dog, that didn’t keep him from enrolling in this year’s Citizens Police Academy.
“I found out some things in this really good course that everyone should have the opportunity to know,” Pendleton said.
The complete list of 2012 Citizens Police Academy graduates in Mount Airy includes:
Joshua W. Bowman, Claude F. Brinkley Sr., Shirley W. Brinkley, Edwin A. Camin, Norma J. Camin, James W. Collins Jr., Alice F. Connolly, Robert A. Connolly, Mary A. Crotts, Leesa Daniel, Benhur B. Dizon Sr., Jeffrey B. Ellis;
Ronald A. Ellis, John W. Evers Jr., Alexander G. Fowler, Scott Graham, Daniel I. Gray, Faye M. Haas, Ross M. Hiatt, Bill Inman, Joan Inman, Amelia C. Jackson, Bernice Johnson, James F. Kemp, Kent B. Lewis, Teresa H. Lindsey, Lenise M. Lynch, Kirby R. McCrary, William B. Pendleton;
Also, Kathy J. Outlaw, Alisha M. Richards, Steven A. Simpson, Ellen E. Sowder, Cathy Stevens, C. Mark Stevens, Amber R. Young, Jodie Beketov, Ben Ables, Bethany Freeman, Vanessa Armenta, Isaiah Freeman and Melinda B. Johnson.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.