Academy offers lessons in police work

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Stacey Mathers found out what it's like on the other side of the badge after she went through the Craig Police Department citizens' police academy a few years ago.

"It gave me a really good insight on the workings of the police," she said. "It's hands-on. You learn things about the goings on of police that the average person wouldn't know about."

Administrative Sgt. Bill Leonard said the 10-week class is intended to give community members a behind-the-scenes look at a range of police duties. About five slots are open for enrollment by Thursday's deadline. The free, once-a-week classes start Feb. 3. The application process includes a criminal background check. "People who come out of it say they never realize what you do," Leonard said. "It gives them a different perspective."

Participants will be immersed in a range of police functions, including jail operations, traffic patrol and arrests. They also learn from officers of the Grand, Routt and Moffat County Narcotics Enforcement Team or GRAMNET about the department's investigations processes. Participants receive tours through the dispatch center and jail, and the final class is wrapped up with a session at a shooting range.

Leonard said the department regularly invites City Council members and other community leaders to classes to relate budgeting concerns. The classes also are intended to show media representatives about the sometimes sensitive nature of investigations, Leonard said.

"It gives you a different perspective of why we can't always tell you what you want to know," he said.

Leonard said the classes, which the department has offered for about five years, have helped bridge gaps between police and the community. Initially the department offered two sessions a year, but a junior police academy in conjunction with an afterschool program replaced one class a year.

"It shows the human side of the officer," Leonard said. "They have families too. It shows how they relate to the community."

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or ahatten@craigdailypress.com

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