Some local citizens are in the midst of stepping into the shoes of some of our local law enforcement officers.
The Lebanon Police Department’s Citizens Police Academy is now underway, and Chief Scott Bowen said the program has had an “absolutely good turnout.”
Bowen said about 18-19 people signed up for this academy, which is a volunteer program that is offered to residents and business owners to help educate and inform the community.
“That’s about the right size we like to have, about 18-25 people,” said Bowen. “Any more than that and it can get hard with all of the hands-on stuff we do throughout the class.”
According to Bowen, the program has been very successful and has been going on for about 17 years.
“We find that the citizens really enjoy this, and to be honest, the staff enjoys it just as much if not more because they get to share what they do,” Bowen said. “It’s just a really good time for everyone, and we enjoy the positive feedback.”
The program began Thursday night and will meet every Thursday for six weeks from 6-9 p.m. in the courtroom of the Lebanon Police Department. The participation cost is free to the public.
The volunteer police academy consists of lectures, presentations and hands-on activities to teach and inform participants of the many sides of law enforcement and also to introduce the police department that serves them and the community. The program aims to give citizens a better sense of the department and everyday operations as well as highlight the public’s role in the Community Oriented Policing philosophy.
“[Thursday] night was the introduction to the police department and just a general overview of the department and things like that,” Bowen said. “From there they’ll get to do various things, like a narcotics detective will come in one night, one night we’ll have driving safety tips, one night we’ll have crime prevention.”
He said there are hands-on activities each night of the program.
Participants will also learn what goes on in the department as well as see different functions and programs within the department each week during different themes that include community relations, SWAT and the K-9 Unit, Bowen said.
Another thing people enjoy, Bowen added, is the forensics team.
“Everyone likes the forensics team because they get to lift fingerprints and tire tracks,” Bowen said.
Bowen said the part that he thinks the participants enjoy most during the program is getting to participate in two ride-alongs with officers.
“I think they enjoy the ride-along most because they get that one-on-one time with an officer and that’s just another piece to building rapport with the community,” Bowen said. “Citizens are more likely to share information or call us if they’re more in tune with the people in the department working.”
Bowen said that over the years, people have also came back and gone through the program again because it is constantly updating and changing due to changing times and circumstances.
“It’s been very successful and our volunteer program actually came out of the Citizen Police Academy,” Bowen said. “At the end of six weeks, people are just like ‘what more can I do?’”
Overall, Bowen said the academy has been one of the most successful programs the department has done since he’s been there.
“Our staff enjoys it and loves participating as well as the citizen participating so it’s just a great way to show citizens what it is we do and build rapport with them and the community,” Bowen said.