SHERIDAN— The Sheridan Police Department graduated its fourth class of Citizen’s Police Academy students Tuesday night at city hall. The annual 11-week program, which began in 2012 but did not operate in 2015, is a move by the department to better connect with local residents and dispel some of the mystery that often surrounds policing.

The Sheridan Press caught up with five of the 14 people in the 2016 class to hear their take. Answers have been edited for brevity.

Sarah Cote

Age: 18

Occupation: high school senior

Why take the class?

I was looking around at my peers and seeing how they had such disrespect for authority and I wanted to be one of the few that took the time to understand authority.

What surprised you?

I was surprised when we were actually firing off real rounds and real bullets and we got to see them shoot off the crowd control gas. And I honestly didn’t think that I was going to get to witness that kind of fun stuff, so that was awesome.

Best day in class?

That’s a toughie. It would have to be between the day we got to see an officer get tased or the day we got to actually fire guns, because that was fun.

Were there any dull days?

We had one or two days like that, where you’d get an officer who had their PowerPoint and all they’d do was read the PowerPoint. But they’re getting better with that. They’re always getting feedback. They give us papers and say, ‘OK, what can we do better?’ And we write what we want and they do it. They’re always improving.

Brad Moon

Age: 73

Occupation: retired school administrator

How has this class changed you, if at all?

When I’m out and about the community and people are saying anything bad about the police department, I need to share with them my experience and invite them to participate in this program.

They’ll learn a lot. Constitution, laws, whether they’re civil, federal, state, whatever they may be.

What sorts of legal content did you cover?

Well we learned a little bit more about the Fourth Amendment, and we learned about blood alcohol content and why they do sobriety tests in the field. And what can be used in court and what can’t be used in court.

What was a typical class like?

They started the evening with a meal. What a nice treat that was. People rushing from work to get to the program, have a bite to eat, 6 o’clock we would start. Nine, 9:30, 10, one night we went until almost 11. It was a long night but, boy! It was good. All the days were interesting. That’s when the discussion really got going, when we could ask questions and they could answer it. And if they didn’t know, they’d find out.

Best part of the class?

I’d never shot an AR-15 before. I come from a long line of hunters and I’ve always had rifles and guns in my home, but to handle and shoot an AR-15, automatic weapon on full automatic, was very exciting.

Edward Vine

Age: 57

Occupation: business owner

Why take the class?

It was part of my long bucket list. A lot of the officers I knew personally, but didn’t know what they actually did. And this was definitely an eye-opening exercise, their day-to-day stuff.

Sheridan’s always had that gap between citizens and law enforcement. [Vine was born and raised in Sheridan.] I don’t care whether it’s the Game and Fish or Highway Patrol or Sheriff’s Department or Police Department. But there’s definitely always been that gap and this is one of those things that can fill that gap, this academy, so that’s why I signed up.

Advice for those considering taking the class?

Well if they have a nature that they want challenged, I suggest they do it, because it is a challenge.

Susan Spielman

Age: 56

Occupation: realtor

Why take the class?

It was totally spontaneous. Literally. I talked to Rick [Schmierer, another participant], he was telling me about it, it sounded intriguing. No forethought, I sent my application in.

You mentioned the class pushed you out of your comfort zone?

It did, especially the firearms section. My dad worked for the NRA when I was a child, but we didn’t go hunting or anything. So this was the first time for a long time [working with guns].

What did you get from the class?

Before I never could put a face with an officer. You know, I knew a few but not many. And I was just impressed with everything they had to say, the way they said it, the way they felt about their jobs, the dedication that they had, the devotion. Everybody was genuine.

Rick Schmierer

Age: 56

Occupation: travel agent

Why take the class?

I knew they were covering different aspects of law enforcement, from drug abuse to stops, and it was just information I kind of wanted and needed to know. I think every class had something new and interesting that I probably had never heard about.

Like what?

On their traffic stops, they set their [patrol] car at a certain angle so it protects the person being pulled over and the officer. They turn their wheels to the left so that if somebody comes from behind and hits [the patrol car], it’ll go out into traffic and not into the other car or onto the sidewalk.