The El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office is offering a Citizens Law Enforcement Academy starting Sept. 18.
“The Citizens Academy is an integral part in the ability for the Sheriff’s Office and its employees to connect with the community,” said Lt. Robert Ashworth. “This allows us to educate the community on what services we offer, how the community can assist us as well as develop positive relationships within the community that last a lifetime.”
To that end, the Sheriff’s Office hopes that the community will become more involved in a positive way with not just law enforcement, but with government as a whole.
“The Sheriff’s Office has instituted the concepts of Community Oriented Policing and Problem Solving (COPPS),” a press release stated. “The goal of the COPPS program is to open a positive line of communication with our citizens and to involve the community in some of the decisions regarding law enforcement.”
The academy allows citizens to get a glimpse into how the Sheriff’s Office operates, why deputies do what they do and how they do it, Ashworth said.
“The Citizens Academy allows the participants to experience, a hands on approach in a classroom setting, what it is like to be a deputy,” Ashworth said, noting that “citizens should be involved with their government, especially those that enforce the laws they enact.”
According to the press release, the subject of how citizens and law enforcement can “can come together to address serious crime and social issues” will also be discussed.
The academy takes a very hands-on approach to teaching in the classroom, Ashworth said.
“As a student you will tour the jail and the dispatch center,” he said. “If you are brave enough, you might ‘catch’ a police dog. You will see what it is like to process a mock crime scene. You will get to play with (in a safe manner) weapons we carry or have removed from criminals. You will get to experience major incidences that have occurred in the County whether it is on video, dispatch tapes or through the deputies themselves. You will walk away with a better understanding of what gangs and drugs do to our community. And by far the most favorite, according to previous classes, is we allow you to make a traffic stop on deputies acting as role players and experience first hand the fear of walking up on the unknown.”
Each student will also be assigned a four-hour block to do a ride-along with a deputy on a routine patrol, Ashworth said.
The academy will start Sept. 18 and run every Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. until Jan. 15, 2013. The classes are held at the Sheriff’s Placerville OES training facility, and are open on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no charge for the academy.
Ashworth said that the academy has been widely praised by previous participants and that the the dropout rate is very low. “To me this is the biggest measure of success,” Ashworth said, “in that the citizens give up 16 Tuesdays to attend and make most, if not all, of the classes.”