SHERIDAN — The Sheridan Police Department is accepting applications for the 2014 Citizen’s Police Academy.
The program provides an opportunity for those who do not work in law enforcement to get an overview of police procedures and gain a greater understanding of what it means to serve and protect.
SPD Sgt. Travis Koltiska said the course is a community outreach effort designed to increase public knowledge of police work.
“It’s a way to get them to have a better understanding of our day-to-day operations,” he explained. “We talk about how we respond to different situations and why we do what we do.”
The 12-week course, which will meet Tuesdays from 6 to 9 p.m., includes classes instructed by various members of the police department on topics ranging from traffic stops, accident investigation, child custody, domestic violence, drug awareness and even firearms handling.
“The (Citizen’s Police) Academy covers why we approach someone the way we do,” Koltiska said. “It’s all about safety.”
An example Koltiska provided was that people sometimes ask why police officers park their patrol cars far from the curb after they have pulled someone over for a traffic stop. He said the practice minimizes the likelihood the officer will get struck by passing traffic.
Other parts of the course are designed to satiate curiosity about police equipment.
“We do firearms training because there’s an amazing local interest,” Koltiska said, indicating that while students do get to fire live rounds during the program, the training is minimal when compared to the weapons training police officers receive.
“It’s just for exposure so they can get an idea of what kind of training officers get,” he said, adding that police officers generally get 40 hours of weapons training at the Wyoming Police Academy and another 24 when they start at the SPD.
Koltiska said the academy combines hands-on learning opportunities with classroom instruction in law and police procedure in hopes of leaving an everyday person with a better grasp of the job.
“Our goal is that when someone has taken our class, and they hear someone say, ‘I saw an officer doing this,’ that person can interject themselves into the conversation and explain why,” he said. “It’s about promoting understanding.”
Graduates of the course, which is free, receive a certificate of completion. The academy brochure is available online and states the academy operates on the premise that informed and educated citizens are not only more supportive of their police officers, but also more productive citizens within their own neighborhoods and community.
Potential students must apply by Feb. 15 to begin training Tuesday, Feb. 25. Applications are available at the police department or on the department’s website. Class size is limited to 15-18 students.
Koltiska indicated past classes have been comprised of diverse age groups almost equally divided between male and female participants.
This year marks the fourth consecutive year the SPD has sponsored the program.