Citizens’ Academy graduates

Police Cmdr. Sue Shutlz presents Gregg Watts with a certificate during Tuesday’s Citizens’ Academy graduation. - Willie Wenzlau
Police Cmdr. Sue Shutlz presents Gregg Watts with a certificate during Tuesday’s Citizens’ Academy graduation.
— image credit: Willie Wenzlau

Graduates of Bainbridge Island’s Citizens’ Academy celebrated Tuesday, after an extensive education on the operations of the city’s police department.

The 10-week course offers community members the opportunity to get an inside look at the inner-workings of the Bainbridge Island Police Department. Participants take classes on everything from traffic to narcotics.

Officers also provide an education on the weapons they use, offering participants the opportunity to shoot firearms at the Sportmen’s Club Range, and even fire a taser.

“I work as a caregiver and so elder abuse was interesting to learn about and what you can do,” said Cindy Thompson who graduated Tuesday. “I think anybody in government office should go through the class, they’d learn a lot.”

Cadets tour the Kitsap County jail, dispatch center and the coroner’s office. During the most recent academy, Judge Kathryn Carruthers of Bainbridge Island Municipal Court and Chief Hank Teran of the Fire Department also spoke to participants.

To take part in the academy, residents do have to apply. Participants must be at least 18-years-old, available to commit to the meetings and courses, and they will be subject to a background check.

“The purpose of the academy is to not only educate those interested in what we do and why, but to build a positive relationship with our community,” said Officer Carla Sias, coordinator of the program. “A lot of people have questions and are interested, but aren’t going to call 911 for such inquiries.”

After completion of the program, the educated participants can volunteer with the police department to assist with non-law enforcement activities. Thompson is a former officer with King County and would like to become a reserve police officer with the city, but as no reserve spots are currently open, she took part in the Citizen’s Academy so that she can contribute as a volunteer.

Norman “Tad” Marten has been volunteering with the department ever since graduating from the program last Spring. He assisted with setting up the graduation event in addition to other police events in the past.

“People think of the police as going out and getting the bad guys, and cops and robbers, and stuff like that,” Marten said. “But there’s a tremendous amount of other work that they do that falls through the cracks a bit. The police academy gives you a good appreciation of what all of that is.”

Jim Mann graduated with Marten last spring, and seeing how much he enjoyed it, his wife decided to take part this fall. She graduated on Tuesday as well.

“The biggest part of it for me was getting to know the police officers. Getting to know who they are,” Mann said. “Many of them live right here on Bainbridge Island so they’re your neighbors and citizens as well.”


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