From September through December I participated in the Mesquite Police Department’s Citizen Police Academy. Most cities in the area have this type of program. It brings local citizens (either living or working in the jurisdiction of the Police Department) into the class room with Police Department leaders. Once per week for three hours we enjoyed presentations from each of the departments and had hands on demonstrations detailing how the police do their job.
The Mesquite Police Department’s Citizens Academy was developed to provide transparency to how the police department does their job. Chief Derek Rohde wanted this program to welcome all citizens who either worked or lived in Mesquite to learn directly from the Police and the Police support staff. It was his hope that this would show the attendees that the department was working for them and is willing to hear directly from the community if the citizens wanted change.
Entertaining and Educational
I highly recommend that everyone go through this program or the one that is local to where you live or work. It was great to hear directly from the Police Officers how they do their job. It was very helpful to understand the process that police go through to identify crime and apprehend the criminals. It was reassuring to hear how effective the Mesquite department has been in reducing crime over the years and what they are doing to drive crime even lower.
Officer Don Williams led the Citizen Police Academy program and Officer Goodfred supported him. Both of these officers are very good-natured and easy to talk to. They obviously enjoy the interaction they have with the citizens and both are very entertaining speakers. Officer Williams told a very entertaining story about one time while he was working as the Resource Officer for one of the Mesquite High Schools. He was instrumental in gathering information that led to an arrest of one of the teachers. The arresting officers asked Officer Williams to stay in his office at the school to insure that the teacher was not spooked if he saw Officer Williams. He knew that the arrest had been made when two students ran into his office and exclaimed, “Officer Williams hurry…our teacher is being kidnapped!” The teacher had tried to run and was subdued by the arresting officers.
Citizen Police Academy Practicals
The last class of the year is what is known as the practicals. We teamed up with a fellow citizen and were put into simulated police situations. In the first, my partner and I went to a ‘domestic disturbance’. Two of the support staff were having an argument: one was posting inappropriate remarks about the other on Facebook. A lot of yelling occurred between the two ladies and the ‘officers’ but we were not successful in getting the two ladies to separate.
I then noticed that one of the ladies had put her hand behind her back. Officer Williams had told us that officers always watch the hands of the people they are speaking with. As he said, “the threat will always come from the hands.” I told the woman to bring her hand out so I could see it and her eyes went a little wide…like, “uh-oh, he caught me going for my ‘gun.'” She started to pull her hand out (a little aggressively for my taste) so I pulled my ‘gun’ and we had an old fashioned shoot out. I think she got me since I did not realize I had to pull the gun and say, “bang” but I was definitely pulling on the gun’s trigger.
What it confirmed is that I really don’t want to be a police officer and I am really happy that we have people like Officers Williams, Goodfred and the rest of the great people we met through the Citizen Police Academy class. Once you have completed the course you are eligible to join the alumni association. Through this association you can volunteer to do special projects for the police: drive the license plate reading car, monitor the parking lot at Town East from the police tower, etc.
Citizen Police Academy