Citizen's Academy returns at BCSO
by Jessica Loeding
Sep 02, 2012 | 1689 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Referenced during debates and question-and-answer sessions prior to the July 31 primary, Sheriff Clark Millsap plans to bring back the department’s Citizen’s Law Enforcement Academy.

A fixture in the past, the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office dropped the program when the economy took a turn for the worse. Millsap said this week that scheduling has created the opportunity to bring back the academy.

“When I brought this back up this year, and Capt. [Mike] Shinall and I had been talking about it, and he came in the other day and said, ‘I got a way, boss, we can do this,’” Millsap said. “He said, ‘... I’ll talk to the guys that are going to do the instructions with me, if they could come in a little later on in the day and include the hours they’ll be teaching into their regular workday,’ and that’s how we’re going to be able to do this.”

Beginning Thursday, Oct. 11, the program will meet 10 times, ending Thursday, Dec. 13. Applications, which are available at the sheriff’s office, currently are being accepted. Those who wish to qualify for the program must complete and return the application for processing and background check completion. The cost of the course is $25, which covers the cost of the materials for the course.

Millsap said this academy will accept up to 35 applicants.

Although class size is limited, Millsap urged residents to continue to apply for future sessions if the academy is full for the fall program.

“I want people to understand, it’s going to take off. We know that, and if you don’t get in this first time, please don’t give up because we’re going to have further classes,” he said. “It’s going to be a success, I know it. It’s been a success in the past, and we’ve had nothing but great reviews.”

Academy members will be exposed aspects of law enforcement, including firearms, jail procedures, criminal investigations, 911 operations, terrorism and more. Participants will have the opportunity to ride with the deputies answering calls for service, work in the jail, and even work the courthouse security, according to a BCSO press release.

Bringing an understanding of law enforcement is the goal, according to Millsap.

“We want to 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 mikeshinall@bartow.org.