Applications are being accepted for an annual program that allows citizens an inside look at Mount Airy Police Department operations.
“Actually, we’ve got five or six already,” Lt. Kelly Hiatt said of those who’ve signed up so far for the 13th edition of the Citizens Police Academy.
The 10-week program is limited to 30 participants, who will learn about all facets of city police activities — from the classroom to the field.
Participants get the chance to ride along in a police car with an officer during an actual patrol. Based on responses from past graduates, this tends to be one of the highlights of the academy that next will begin on Jan. 7.
It will be conducted on Mondays from 6:30 to 10 p.m. at the police station on Rockford Street until March, covering a variety of topics.
Other popular segments of the program are traffic stop demonstrations, K-9 (police dog) demonstrations and a Crisis Management Team (most commonly known as SWAT) entry simulation, according to Hiatt.
In addition, it will include FATS (Firearms Training Simulator) operations, narcotics investigations, arrest and search/seizure procedures, laws and ordinances, training procedures and a mock court.
“The classes are very beneficial to the citizens because they learn how the police department operates and why the department does things the way they do,” added Hiatt, who heads the department’s Community Services Division.
“Everyone that has taken the class previously will tell you that they thoroughly enjoyed it and found it very interesting.”
The classes are taught by the officers and employees of the department. Its training room will host class sessions.
Along with the program content, a key element of the Citizens Police Academy involves building a rapport between local residents and officers.
“We think it helps our community policing efforts by allowing us to get to know the citizens,” Hiatt said, which promotes a better working relationship between the two in preventing or solving crimes.
“People are more apt to call us if they know us and know us on a personal basis,” he said. “But the main thing is, it (the Citizens Police Academy) just creates a stronger partnership that allows all of us to have a better place to live.”
The classes are open to citizens who live in or near Mount Airy or work or have a business in the city. Participants must be at least 18 years old and undergo a background check.
Those interested are asked to visit the police station and complete an application form that Hiatt said takes about five minutes. “So they can do that while they are there.”
Hiatt says the class tends to fill up fast and he urged applicants to sign up “as quickly as possible, because we can only take the first 30.” He can be contacted for more information at 786-3561.
Nearly 250 people have graduated from the Citizens Police Academy during its first 12 years. Some have gone on to join a new organization, Friends of the Mount Airy Police Department, which allows them to have a continued role in supporting local law enforcement activities.
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or email@example.com.