Ever wonder why the police do what they do in certain situations? The Bellingham Police Department is resuming its Citizen's Academy. My wife and I attended the academy in 2007. What an experience!
Citizen's Academy brings together friends and neighbors from all parts of the city and county. The common thread is learning about Bellingham Police Department's response to situations ranging from the simple to the complex.
This is a unique opportunity for anyone over 18 to see close up all aspects of police work. There are a range of topics presented over nine sessions of three hours. Each topic will be presented by officers and staff dedicated to making the academy a worthwhile experience. Presentations include introductions to patrol procedures, criminal law investigations, crises intervention, traffic enforcement, special teams, hiring and training, crime prevention and other community outreach programs.
Most citizens learn about police work from watching TV and news media. Learning about the training of police personnel, as well as all the factors to consider when officers make decisions, is very educational.
The visit to the county jail is an eye-opener. The class will walk from the classroom to the jail where the sally port is opened and then closed, locking everyone in the jail. Jail deputies take the class through the routine of admission, possible bail, appearance before a judge and a stay in the facility.
The visit to the dispatch center is instructive as the class sees the work close up of 911 operators and those dispatchers responsible for reaching police, fire, parking enforcement and traffic, and maintaining contact until everything is resolved. It is one of high points of the academy to visit the dispatch center.
The forensic staff give the class the opportunity to try their hand at looking for clues. At the end of nine sessions, those attending have increased understanding about police work and how Bellingham's department serves and protects citizens and visitors.
The Citizen's Academy will start Feb. 5. Contact Sgt. Danette Beckley, firstname.lastname@example.org, with questions.
Mike Onorato is a graduate of the Citizen's Academy. Window On My World is an occasional essay in Monday's Bellingham Herald that allows Whatcom County residents to share their passion for what they do, an idea or cause they support. Send your Window On My World, which must be no more than 700 words, to Julie.email@example.com.