The East Ridge Police Department will kick off its first-ever Citizens’ Police Academy on Monday, September 16, officials said earlier this week.
Officials said the 10-week academy will give an opportunity for residents to become better acquainted with some of East Ridge’s Finest, and provide a unique perspective on the challenges that police officers face today.
Lt. Clint Uselton, the supervisor over the ERPD Patrol Division, is leading up the Citizens’ Police Academy. (CPA). Lt. Uselton said there has been a lot of negativity on a national basis toward law enforcement.
“Citizens don’t know why and what we do,” he said during an interview in his cramped office. “It’s human nature to be afraid of what you don’t know.”
The CPA is an opportunity to enlighten average citizens to the often complicated job of policing.
Officials said that 18 city residents and/or business owners applied to be a part of the CPA. Part of the application process included background checks on those individuals. Ten people were ultimately selected from the pool of applicants.
“We wanted to keep the class small is that we want to be able to interact with each other and with the officer,” Lt. Uselton said.
Lt. Uselton rolled out the curriculum for the course. The “cadets” will begin with a welcoming and orientation at the ERPD Training Room. The orientation will include a briefing on the history of the department and a review of the departmental organizational chart. A tour of the Police Services Center will be in the offing.
On week two, those enrolled in the CPA will receive an overview of how the Patrol Division works, including what equipment the officers use and what kind of training they receive.
In following weeks the “cadets” will get a crash course in the department’s Warrants Division. This includes specifics on how people under arrest are booked. Officials said those in the class may tour the Hamilton County Jail.
In week four, the class will receive instruction on K-9 Unit/Traffic Unit. The following week will be all about the complicated world of law enforcement communications; how calls are taken and routed to officers. There will be a tour of the 911 Communications Center on Amnicola Highway.
In week six, the class will get an introduction to the Criminal Investigation Division. This will include crime scene investigations and how evidence is collected and preserved. Lt. Uselton said the class would also be exposed to a “mock crime scene.”
“We will have a couple detectives set up a crime scene and give the citizens a chance to say ‘here is some evidence.'” he said. “The public perception from watching CSI on television is that we can have DNA results back in an hour. That’s not exactly how it works.”
The class will get a chance to see how East Ridge Municipal Court works and the nuts and bolts of courthouse security.
The class will get instruction on the responsibility of the School Resource Officer (SRO). That will include an overview of the juvenile law process.
Lt. Uselton said week nine of the class will be all about firearms and firearms safety. This will be inside the classroom. The final week of class is scheduled to be on the shooting range.
“We certainly don’t expect for them to become expert marksmen,” Lt. Uselton said.
There will be a formal graduation ceremony scheduled for November 21 in the Council Chambers/Courtroom at City Hall.
After having graduated, Lt. Uselton is encouraging those in the class to participate in the department’s “ride along” program … actually go on patrol with an officer.
Acting Police Chief Stan Allen said he intends to have a second Citizens’ Police Academy at some point in the Spring of 2020, and continue with another class next fall.