Citizens police academy, on patrol

Published 3:09 pm Thursday, June 17, 2010

Citizens who have ever wondered what it’s like to be a police officer can participate in one of two programs soon to be offered by the Picayune Police Department.

Chief Jim Luke said the department will offer a Citizens Police Academy and will form a Citizens on Patrol Division.

The Citizens Police Academy will be a way for residents to get a taste what officers undergo as they do their jobs. Luke said he hopes the opportunity will give community members a perspective of the inner workings of the police department and get them involved in elevating the quality of life in the city.

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Course work in the academy will involve criminal investigations, narcotics, domestic violence, evidence, community policing, patrol, school resource, Mississippi law, communications, CPR, use of force, crime prevention and seniors and citizens on patrol. Participants will see a K-9 and SWAT demonstration by the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department. Class presentations will be given by the officers who are versed in each topic.

Luke said part of the training will ask participants to determine when an officer should shoot or not shoot.

“That way they know the hard job we have when making split second decisions,” Luke said.

Training will take place for three hours one day a week over nine weeks. Classes will be held Tuesdays, either from 6 to 9 p.m. or 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., said Capt. Chad Dorn. The classes will begin on Aug. 3, and are expected to end Sept. 26.

Applications are being accepted to fill the 25 slots in the class. There is no charge to participate.

“Community involvement is the most powerful force any law enforcement agency has on the fight against crime,” Luke said in a press release.

A separate program will give citizens a chance to directly participate in policing efforts, the Citizens on Patrol Division. Luke said it will be an extension of the department’s successful Senior Patrol.

Citizens on Patrol will be the eyes and ears of the department and could free up time for certified officers to focus on more pressing matters, Luke said. Citizens who become part of Citizens on Patrol could help with traffic direction, local events such as the Street Fair, conduct building checks or respond to non-threatening situations, Deputy Chief David Ervin said. While Citizens on Patrol participants will not have arrest or ticket writing powers, they will have direct contact with certified officers.

Luke said some of the members of Citizens on Patrol volunteers may be trained to help with day-to-day duties at city hall.

The department already has a vehicle for the newly formed division, a car that was donated to the Picayune Police Department by a Florida law enforcement agency after Hurricane Katrina. Paint for the car was donated by Valspar and Todd Douglas with Todd’s Collision Center painted the car, Luke said. 

Ervin said while participation in the Citizens Police Academy will qualify participates to apply to the Citizens on Patrol Division it, will not guarantee their acceptance, nor is it a prerequisite. Citizens who do not participate in the academy can still apply to participate in the citizen patrol division. The department will look for responsible applicants who have no criminal record and are 21 years of age or older.

More information about the academy can be found by calling Dorn at 601-798-7411 ext. 112. For more information about Citizens on Patrol call Bob Gieger at 601-799-0447.