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Citizen's Police Academy returns

Sara McManamy-Johnson sjohnson@lebanondemocrat.com • Dec 15, 2015 at 1:52 PM

School is almost back in session at the Lebanon Citizen’s Police Academy.

The twice-yearly program is accepting applications now for the session beginning March 21.

The police department program offers citizens the chance to learn what its offers do every day.

“The biggest benefit is allowing our citizens to get an inside look at the department,” said Chief Scott Bowen. “There are a lot of times they have questions about how operations work or ‘why do you do this?’”

He said it also helps to build relationships between citizens and police.

“We find that the citizen who is more informed is more likely to come forward with information,” said Bowen.

Participants will learn about drug enforcement, driving under the influence, gangs, crime scene processing, handling guns safely and more.

And almost every meeting will include at least one hands-on activity.

“We’ll have a DUI simulation, where they actually get to put the DUI goggles on [to experience the vision changes of intoxication], and we’ll do a drug demonstration,” said Bowen. “Most people know what marijuana looks like, but a lot of people don’t know what meth looks like or crack cocaine, so we’ll bring some of it out from our evidence room to show people in case they run across it or they see it, so they’ll kind of know what it is.”

Bowen said the most popular activity, by far, is the police ride-along.

“There will be two opportunities to ride with the officers during their time in the academy,” said Bowen.

Another popular part of the program is the crime scene investigation demonstration, according to Bowen.

Participants will also learn about the department’s volunteer program – which grew from the Citizen’s Police Academy.

“We kept having people from the Citizen’s Police Academy come back to us saying ‘what more can we do?’” said Bowen.

Participation in the Citizen’s Police Academy will be limited to about 35 people, and the deadline for registration is March 15.

To qualify, participants must be at least 18 years old, never had any felony convictions and must live, work or volunteer in Lebanon.

While participation in the Citizen’s Police Academy is limited to adults, children between the ages of 12 and 18 can participate in the Youth Police Academy.

“The youth academy is more of a team-building concept,” said Bowen. “It’s more of a mentoring situation.”

Students will learn about the various facets of law enforcement and learn how to tell between crime-fighting fact and fiction.

While Bowen encourages students who are aspiring law enforcement officers, the program can also benefit students who have a general interest in civics, government and the community.

He also said participants must be interested and willing participants – the program is not designed for children with disciplinary problems or “at risk” children.

The Citizen’s Police Academy will meet for six weeks every Thursday from 6-9 p.m. in the courtroom of the Lebanon Police Department, and the Youth Police Academy will meet March 18 through March 22 from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m.

There is no cost to participate in either program.

To participate in the Youth Police Academy, students must be between 12 and 18 years old, not had any criminal convictions, be in good academic standing, and have parent or guardian authorization.

The deadline to apply for the Youth Police Academy is March 8.

Anyone interested can apply in person at the police department, located at 406 Tennessee Blvd., or apply online at lebanonpd.org.

For further information, contact Officer PJ Hardy, CPA Coordinator, at 453-4398 or by email at pjhardy@lebanontn.org.

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