THEORY AND APPLICATION OF THE
CITIZEN ACADEMY CONCEPT
IN LAW ENFORCEMENT
What is a Citizen Academy?
A Sheriff's Office interactive program, designed to educate the public about its department policies, regulations, the criminal justice system, and ways to reduce crime. The program allows members of a Sheriff's Office and citizens of a community to meet, share ideas and information, and interact in a very positive and proactive setting. It is further hoped that the instruction will increase law enforcement awareness, whereas to dispel suspicions, misconceptions and to increase sheriff/community rapport through this educative process.
Advantages of a Citizen Academy
• A support group for the Sheriff's Office
• Change perspectives
• Create better sheriff/community relations
• Showcase your office and its employees
• Citizen awareness of the Sheriff's Office
• Sheriff awareness of citizen concerns and perceptions
• Positive and proactive contact
A Short History
Sir Robert Peel's progenies appear to be responsible for developing the citizen police academy. The first such program known as the Police Night School was conducted in 1977 by the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary in Exeter, England. Designed to acquaint private citizens with the nature of police work and its organization in England, the school attracted 70 participants to a series of 10 classes, held one evening per week for 10 weeks.
In 1985, Orlando, Florida Police Department organized a citizen police academy, adding the option for attendees to participate in a ride-along program, and to complete an abridged firearms course. Other departments have followed in Orlando's footsteps, somewhat sporadically. The Lakewood, Colorado Police Department may be credited with validating the concept of citizen police academies through formal evaluation.
Significantly better press and public relations, along with partnerships in public safety that have developed, are a result of the educational strategy exemplified by the citizen police academy.
The Cass County Citizen's Academy class #1 was held October 14 thru December 14, 1998. The first class had four members: Ruthie Johnson, Duane McIntyre, Paul Breen, and Richard Raymond.. With their help and direction the academy has been growing each year. We try to limit the class to 12 members, however we do not turn away any person that has been recommended by a alumni.
The following letter was written by Ruthie Johnson and it describes what the academy is all about:
What a GREAT experience. As well as being extremely informative, it was also a lot of fun. All of the instructors were very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about putting on their programs and their was little doubt that they really enjoyed what they are doing. The size of the class allowed us to have an informal, round table type format, giving us a more relaxed atmosphere for questions.
The opportunity to participate in the EVOC, range shooting, mock traffic stop, jail observation and ride along, were definitely HIGH LIGHTS of the course.
Thanks again to the time and effort put forth for this small class.
I will highly recommend this class to my friends and co-workers.
CITIZEN ACADEMY PURPOSE
The purpose of starting a Citizen Academy was to bridge the gap between the Sheriff's Office and the people they serve.
Unfortunately, for year's law enforcement agencies have shrouded themselves in secrecy. As a result, much of the public does not understand why Deputy Sheriffs handle some incidents the way they do. The public is not aware generally of the legal requirements that come into play.
The Citizen's Academy is intended not only to remedy some of the misunderstanding but to allow citizens to experience some of the training and to have some "hands on" experience with some situations that are normally not experienced outside law enforcement circles.
The Citizen Academy is a twelve week academy, meeting one night per week for three hours. Also, one Saturday is spent on the Emergency Vehicle Operation Course. This course teaches vehicle control under emergency conditions. Academy participants will operate department vehicles that the Deputy Sheriff's drive. This part of the program is optional.
During the thirteen weeks, a wide variety of subjects are covered such as;
• History of the Sheriff's Office, Office Tour
• Dispatch Center & Criminal Arrest Warrants
• Civil Process, D.A.R.E, Juvenile Detention
• Corrections, Jail Tour
• Emergency Services Unit, Court Security
• Drug Investigations
• Emergency Vehicle Operations Class ( Optional)
• Fire Arms, Range Shooting
• Patrol Functions, Vehicle Stops, Handcuffing
• Bomb Squad
• SWAT Team
• Graduation, Slide Presentation, Awards, Jail Tour for Guests
The classes have hands on practicals where the Academy participants are able to be actively involved with a Deputy Sheriff.
Participants are allowed to ride with a Deputy Sheriff to see first hand what happens on the street. They can also spend time observing the inner workings of the Cass County Jail.
There is no cost for the Citizen Academy . Academy participants are furnished with a notebook with information covering all the topics throughout the thirteen weeks.
Applications(PDF) are available at the Sheriff's Office, and applicants are chosen by the Sheriff's Office.
Provide education and awareness to members of the community about what the Sheriff's Office is what it does, and how it accomplishes its mission. A continuing program to develop citizen awareness and understanding of the role of law enforcement.
SIZE OF CLASS
Class will be 12 citizens or more if a person is recommended by an Alumnus.
DURATION OF CLASS
The academy is held once a week for twelve weeks from 6:30 P.M. to 9:30 P.M. Students will have the opportunity to ride with a uniformed deputy and also spend time observing the inner workings of the Cass County Jail.
COST Cass County Sheriff's Office will incur all cost.
FREQUENCY One fall session per year.
Graduates of this course will not be deputy sheriffs or vigilantes, but will be better informed citizens.
ADVERTISING Radio, Television and Newspaper
Department involvement is the most critical for the academy to be successful. Involvement must include the Sheriff down to patrol deputies and office staff.
The courses will be three (3) hours of instructions by command deputies, patrol deputies, and staff of the Cass County Sheriff's Office. Course should be hands on if possible.
(Back to Top)