by Lucinda Campbell
special to the roundup
and Jerry Thebado
For the men and women enrolled in the Citizens Police Academy, sponsored by the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Payson Police Department, the last class was a bittersweet affair.
Aug. 23, we graduated.
Not that many of us weren't ready to get our Thursday nights back. Even our dedicated instructors admitted they were ready for a break.
But over the course of the summer as we learned together, apprehended bad guys together, and fictitiously stamped out evil wherever we found it the students of the inaugural class discovered camaraderie, the "espirt de corps" that instructor Sgt. Rod Mamero talked about.
During the course of the 12-week academy, we were offered a glimpse of the training, the day-to-day routines, and some of the critical scenarios law enforcement officers are faced with. Cadets were put through simulated exercises, requiring us to evaluate situations, make snap decisions, and then be accountable for our actions. Some of us had a little more explaining to do than others.
Among the exercises covered in the course are traffic stops, police canine use, defensive tactics, special response team operations, firearms training, gang awareness, and DUI investigations.
"How many of you got shot?" Lt. Don Engler asked at graduation. A large number of hands went up.
"How many of you shot the bad guy?" he asked. A smaller number of hands went up.
"How many of you took the Taser?" he asked. Only a few of our brave comrades took the hit from the 50,000-volt, non-lethal weapon.
Dozens of family and friends showed up at graduation partially to applaud our accomplishment; mostly to get a look at what we had been so excited about all summer. When Sgt. Rod Mamero started his slide show, they were given a pretty good idea of what all the fuss was about.
Following the slides, each cadet was presented a certificate, and T-shirt identifying us as "Class No. 1, the No. 1 class!"
The three instructors who gave up so much of their time coordinating this class Sgt. Mamero, retired officer Charlene Hunt, and Department of Public Safety Officer Rich Alvarez have announced they're taking an extended hiatus before starting another class.
It's a well-deserved rest.
In the meantime, we, the cadets of the Citizens Police Academy's Class No. 1, will serve as ambassadors of our local law enforcement officers.