SHERIDAN — After several years of holding Citizen’s Police Academy on a weekly basis for nine- to 10-week stints, Sheridan Police Department decided to adjust its format for the 2018-2019 session to monthly meetings on Saturdays from fall to spring. Department administration also anticipates adding a youth-focused summer session next year.
Citizen’s Police Academy sessions take place nationwide and provide opportunities for community members to learn about different aspects of a law enforcement officer’s day-to-day duties. Sheridan’s academy includes conversations on how officers handle domestic violence, drugs, suicidal subjects, criminal investigations, traffic stops, accident investigations and chemical testing.
Different officers within the department also rotate teaching demonstrations on topics including traffic stops, TASER, driving under the influence testing, crisis intervention and K-9 operations.
Before the change in format, interested members of the community had to fill out an application to bring more sense of commitment before enrolling them in the class. Students then graduated from the citizen’s academy.
“We understood that in combination of every week (and the sense of commitment) was tough on people that are working in the community,” Lt. Travis Koltiska said. “We wanted to try something a little different this year.”
Instead, interested participants are no longer required to fill out paperwork, commit to every class offered or even stay for the duration of each Saturday afternoon offering. If citizens desire to watch only the TASER demonstrations and learn how officers interact with suicidal subjects, they may pop in for that portion and leave as needed.
“We welcome anyone here to come and learn about the police department,” Koltiska said. “We’re hoping it’ll get a mix of people who can attend different classes and will open some community connections.”
Koltiska attributes the decrease of applicants in past years to the more open and transparent work in everyday patrolling and interactions by officers with community members.
“If people had a question, we were free to answer it,” Koltiska said. “The increase in transparency on a day-to-day basis has maybe lessened people’s questions about the why’s or the how’s.”
Sgt. Dan Keller, who organized and introduced most of the classes in last year’s session, also found the work put in by officers daily helped create more fluid relationships with the community.
“We emphasize an importance on being partners with the community in all aspects of our policing,” Keller said. “We don’t want community policing to just be an event, we want it to be really who we are.”
Keller believes the new format will fit the needs of busy community members.
“I think the new format will have some advantages to it in that it won’t feel like it requires this overall commitment from people,” Keller said.
CPA begins Sept. 15 starting at 1 p.m. Most classes last around three hours but sometimes go over due to active student engagement. Each class will introduce three aspects of police work. Classes will run monthly until the simulated munitions training and range simulator class to end the session May 18. Most classes will be conducted indoors at the SPD office at 45 W. 12th Street.