“Back in ’08 when we had to cease doing this because of our economic issues, the sheriff was really upset about having to stop doing it. He enjoyed it. He knew you guys were getting educated on what was going on so he was really upset about it,” BCSO Capt. Mike Shinall said during his address to the class.
Shinall, who served as the program coordinator, said the academy will return again in April, and the department hopes to host the course on a quarterly basis.
Beginning Oct. 11, the 27 participants attended 10 sessions on Thursday evenings at the BCSO.
Those attending the class covered all ages with several younger members saying they were interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement.
Aileen Marshall, who is working toward becoming a registered nurse, said Wednesday the academy was an avenue for her to learn if she truly wanted to be a nurse or if her calling was in law enforcement.
She said after discussions with instructors, her plans for now are to remain in the RN program.
The 2012 session of the citizens’ academy began with an introduction to the office of sheriff by Bartow County Sheriff Clark Millsap and a tour of the new addition to the jail.
Over the following nine weeks, students were introduced to all levels of local law enforcement from the courts to the deputies on the streets.
Throughout the session, members heard from the Bartow-Cartersville Drug Task Force, including a hands-on lesson with seized narcotics and, later, a demonstration by the K9 unit assigned to the task force.
Investigator Jonathan White led the class through a look at crime scene investigation, which concluded with a practical exercise by attendees. White established separate crime scenes around the sheriff’s office, and based on the investigator’s instructions, the class “worked” the scenes in small groups.
He then had each group present its findings and determinations to the class.
Toward the end of the academy, Shinall, along with Sgt. Richey Harrell and Investigator Phil Frasier, offered a course in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, which certified participants in CPR. During the session, students also learned methods to aid choking victims and use of the automated external defibrillator.
For an overwhelming majority of the class, the highlight of the 10 weeks came in early December when attendees underwent firearms training at the range in Emerson.
Instructors worked with the citizens using both handguns and an M16 rifle. Prior to the live firearms training, Shinall led a session on weapons carry laws, use of force and personal safety.
Upon graduation, students who had completed the prerequisites, including an online security and integrity course through the state. Graduates will be allowed, beginning in January, to spend three days with employees of the sheriff’s office — choices include ridealongs with patrol deputies or working with jail deputies, courthouse staff or the criminal investigations division.
For Danney Pickard, safety and human resources director of Chemical Products Corp., expressing his gratitude to the speakers and instructors was a top priority.
“Has anyone told you they appreciated what you do?” Pickard asked each speaker at the end of each class. “Thank you for all you do.”
Shinall said applications for the next BCSO Citizens Law Enforcement Academy will be available Jan. 2.
Applicants must be 18 years of age and pass a background check. Participants also will be fingerprinted during the course. The fee is $25, which covers the cost of materials for the class.
When the academy’s return was announced in late summer, Millsap said educating the public was the primary goal of the course.
“We want the citizens to understand just exactly what we do in a real-life situation, not something on TV, to where they can get a glimpse into these guys and gals that put their life on the line every day, what they run into every night, what they see when they go to a call,” he said. “We want the people to fully understand because a lot of people don’t really see what these officers are doing out here. If they’re pulled over on the side of the road or if two of them are sitting side by side, they may not be just shooting the breeze, they may be actually discussing a call that they just left or a call they’re fixing to go on and how they’re planning [it]. ‘You take the back door, I’ll take the front door.’”
Informing the community also can be beneficial to officers.
“See, I’ve said in the past that, you know, out here on the road I’ve got 10 to 12 officers a night. That’s 20 to 24 sets of eyes. There’s 100,000-something people in this county,” Millsap said. “This, I hope, will bring them to where they want to get involved because you fall into that old stigma, ‘I don’t want to get involved,’ and they’ll turn a blind eye to it. When if they had just picked up the phone and said, ‘Hey, such and such and so and so, and I know that’s just happened.’ If they saw a dope deal go down or if they saw something they thought might fixing to be happening and they just [thought], ‘I saw that when I was in that class.’ Call 911.
“... The more calls we get the more we can help slow down crime in this county. People will get involved.”
For more information, contact Shinall, program coordinator, at 770-382-5050 extension 6069 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.