Citizen's police academies

Citizen’s police academies—offered by the Tomball and Magnolia police departments and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office—grant local residents a rare opportunity to learn the ins and outs of law enforcement agencies and their roles in the community.

“I think it’s important for us to get to know our community members and for our community members to get to know us,” Tomball Police Chief Robert Hauck said. “It is important for people to understand at its core what the character and core values of public safety entities are.”

The courses are open to residents age 18 and older to learn about a variety of police duties, such as felony and routine patrol stops, DWI enforcement, firearms training and crime scene investigation procedures. The free, three-hour academy sessions are offered at the Tomball and Magnolia police departments and typically span eight to nine weeks.

The Tomball Police Department began hosting its eight-week academy Sept. 2. The course runs from 6 to 9 p.m. every Tuesday in the facility’s training room, and the academy concludes with a graduation ceremony Oct. 28. The department also offers a 40-hour Youth Citizen’s Police Academy for one week every summer to teach students age 13 to 17 leadership skills and offer an inside look at the daily work of police officers.

In Magnolia, the police department offers its nine-week program Oct. 2 through Dec. 4, with classes scheduled from 6 to 9 p.m. every Thursday at the Friendship Center.

Both academies promote a greater level of understanding between residents and the police department to help lower crime and increase safety in the community, said Jose Lopez, a sergeant with the Magnolia Police Department. The department extended its academy this year to incorporate active shooter training and safety techniques geared to aid residents in public buildings and workplaces, Lopez said.

“[The Citizen’s Police Academy] gives you an open look at your police department,” Lopez said. “We all pay taxes, and it gives you an idea of where your tax money is going and how it is used by the local government. You can come up to the police department and see [police officers] are citizens just like anybody else.”

In addition, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office offers its own 15-week police program in the spring and fall called the Citizen’s Academy. Registration is $40. The 44-hour course allows residents to learn the basics of police work, such as patrol, administration, jail functions, auto theft investigation, hostage investigation, traffic stop scenarios, internal affairs and working with police dogs.

“Some people like the SWAT session, and some people like the motorcycle class, but the canine one is pretty impressive because of the extensive training and well-trained dogs,” Montgomery County Sheriff Tommy Gage said.

In many instances, graduates of the academies have continued on to volunteer and work for the Tomball and Magnolia police departments in administrative duties, special events, day and night community watch programs and as commissioned officers for Montgomery County.

Source: Community Impact News