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What's It Like to Be a Cop?

Find out by participating in the Scott County Sheriff's Citizens' Academy.

Editor's note: From the Scott County Sheriff's Office website.

Law enforcement officers often wish the public had a better understanding of what it’s like being a cop. 

In an effort to allow the citizens to meet the men and women of law enforcement and to educate citizens in the functions of public safety, the citizen police academy program was created. The original concept of the Citizen Police Academy (CPA) came from Great Britain, where the UK Constabulary designed a program to give citizens on overview of the British law enforcement operations. Known as “police night school” when it began in 1977, the program was an immediate success.

The idea spread to the United States through the Orlando, Florida, Police Department shortly afterwards. The CPA concept can now be found in large and small law enforcement agencies in the United States and Canada. CPA training has been conducted in hundreds of cities and counties across the country. Both citizens and the law enforcement officers that serve them benefit from this professional, grass roots program.

Once again, the Scott County Sheriff’s Office is offering a Citizens’ Academy. The first academy, in the spring of 2002, included participants from township boards, county board members and members of the Elko and New Market City Boards. Since then, our citizens’ academies have been open to the public.

The purpose of the Sheriff’s Citizens’ Academy is to provide information to the citizens who attend so they can make informed decisions about police activity. Understanding can dispel suspicions and misconceptions, and increase sheriff’s office/community rapport through the educational process. In turn, the Sheriff’s Office becomes more aware of the feelings and concerns of the community through input from the participants. Allowing the citizens to see the Sheriff’s Office staff as people (and conversely, allowing staff to personally meet the people they serve) helps to establish open lines of communication and cooperation.

During the 9-week program, citizens learn about a wide variety of topics. Included are: 

  • Crime scene investigation. 
  • Traffic enforcement and accident investigation. 
  • Use of force, deadly force and defensive tactics. 
  • 9-1-1 dispatch and communications, including a tour of the 9-1-1 dispatch center.
  • Court security and civil process, 
  • Special weapons, tactics and negotiations, 
  • Drug enforcement,
  • Homeland Security. 
  • DUI enforcement with an interactive controlled drinking and testing session. 
  • The role of the jail and tours of the facilities currently in use, and 
  • Crime prevention and citizen volunteers in the Sheriff’s Office.

Instructors in the Citizens’ Academy are all local law enforcement professionals. Citizens learn first-hand the job real deputies must perform and not the Hollywood version. Academy participants gain an understanding of police procedures that are more reflective of everyday police work than what is portrayed by the media. After participation and graduation, citizens come away from this training with a deeper understanding of the police mission and with increased ability to see what the Sheriff’s Office can and cannot do to serve Scott County.

The nine-week program will run from Mondays from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., Feb. 25 through April 22.  Applicants must be 18 years of age or older and live, work or attend school in Scott County. Participants must agree to allow the Sheriff's Office to run a criminal background check to ensure the safety and security of participants, Sheriff's Office personnel and the public. A criminal record does not necessarily disqualify an applicant. In addition, participants should plan to attend all or most of the sessions. Class size is limited. 

Citizen involvement is one of the most powerful tools any law enforcement agency has in the fight against crime.

Your Scott County Sheriff’s Office personnel are often doing difficult and dangerous work; prepared to make life-and-death decisions in a split second. They walk into situations that are out of control and restore order. They must professionally respond to all types of people and the whole spectrum of human behavior.

Consider attending this session of the Sheriff’s Office Citizens’ Academy We look forward to meeting you!

Applications are available here.

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