Police academy's goal is to offer education, gain volunteers

Anyone with a curiosity about law enforcement is encouraged to apply for the Bainbridge Island Police Citizen’s Academy for a hands-on learning experience with the local police department.

The eight-week program will give citizens access to information on how each unit in the department functions from traffic enforcement, narcotics, criminal law to defensive tactics and investigations.

The program will begin on Tuesday, Feb. 8, and classes will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. each Tuesday with two optional Saturday sessions.

The academy was founded in 2003 and also held a session in 2005.

“The program was started to assist our citizens in understanding what their local law enforcement department does,” said Police Commander Sue Shultz. “We want to give folks the chance to see every aspect of law enforcement.”

Shultz said the academy will give participants an opportunity to ride with an on-duty patrol officer, get tours of the 911 dispatch center and the Kitsap County Jail. Participants may also be given the option of being future volunteers for the department.

“This is a great opportunity for islanders to get to know more about the men and women who protect their community and why they make the decisions they do,” said Chief of Police Jon Fehlman. “I hope the academy generates a lot of interest from community members in order to help us create of a core group of volunteers, who will offer their time and skills toward public safety-related programs.”

The academy is provided as a service to the citizens and will be instructed by various law enforcement officers who are adjusting their shifts to provide the training. Individuals from other agencies in Kitsap County will also help instruct the classes.

City Council member Bill Knobloch participated in the last academy and said it was an enjoyable way to get a broad view of how the system works with other agencies and worth the time and effort.

“As a council member, I found it an essential part of how we govern,” said Knobloch.

BIPD Officer Carla Sias has also obtained donations from some of the local business owners to help fund the academy.

According to the city’s website, participants will get a chance to better understand the department’s decision-making processes and what an officer faces on the job. The goal is for citizens attending the academy to be able to accurately determine how effectively the department is serving the community.

Applicants are subject to a background check, must be at least 18 years old and willing to make an eight-week commitment.

Applications are available on the city’s website or in person from the police department and will be accepted from Jan. 10-31. Class size is limited to 20 students and five applications have been submitted as of Jan. 11. There will be a waiting list for next year’s academy if this session should fill up.

For more information, call 842-5211.

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