Police Test Waters On Second Academy

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In 2001, 25 Rim country residents went through a 12-week seminar called the Citizens Police Academy.

"If we get enough people interested, we'd definitely look at having it again," Payson Police Lt. Don Engler said.

The academy, sponsored by the police department and the Department of Public Safety, is designed to give students insight into the procedures and legal issues involved with law enforcement today.

Among the topics covered in the previous academy were DUI stops, defensive tactics, firearm safety, evidence collection, crime scene investigation and the Special Response Team.

"I thought it was incredible," Lucinda Campbell, director of nursing at Payson Care Center, said. "It really opened my eyes to what police officers go through on a daily basis -- both the mundane and the tough stuff. I learned an awful lot about drug laws, narcotics, and traffic stops."

The Citizens Police Academy, according to former students, was much more than a lecture series.

"It was all hands-on," Campbell said. "Every week, we got to do something. We got to do traffic stops and they brought out a simulator and you had to shoot the bad guy before he shot you. You get opportunities that you'll never have."

"The simulator, I think, was the best part of the academy," Roundup editor and academy graduate Jerry Thebado said. "You walk into a room and it's this huge video -- you're searching a warehouse and you have to make split-second decisions. I got shot twice."

"I think the Citizens Academy helps the community understand the police department," Engler said. "It helps the attendees learn more about law enforcement and what we are trying to do."

"I think the thing I learned the most was that these guys live on the edge every single minute and any jerk could kill them and the fact that they go through that kind of danger every day is amazing," Campbell said. "I'm all for it. I think that a lot of people should take it because they would really appreciate our police officers more."

At least one Citizens Academy graduate ended up choosing law enforcement as her career.

"Officer Molly Hunt was in our citizens academy and went on to become a police officer," Engler said.

If you would be interested in participating in a Citizens Police Academy, call Lt. Don Engler at the Payson Police Department, (928) 474-5242, ext. 224.

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