Pierce County Sheriff's Office launching citizens' academy
Pierce County Sheriff's Office will teach area residents the inner workings of the department through its first citizens' academy in early October.
The program will teach 20 people in once-a-week Thursday night, two-hour classes about topics that range from K9 division demonstration to case reviews with a department investigator. The sheriff's office hopes the program's classes will give residents a realistic understanding of how the department operates.
"Our hope is for them to get involved with the sheriff's department and they can see how we work," said Pierce County Sheriff Nancy Hove. "I think with today's television and movies people think they know how we operate."
The academy was designed by Pierce County Sheriff's deputy Spencer Fobbe, who will be involved in most of the classes and said it will be only offered through the county, that he is aware.
He said he wants to make the classes engaging for the participants through demonstrations and activities.
"I really don't want it to be something where they just stare at the powerpoint," Fobbe said. "I want it to be hands on; hopefully the bulk of it is going to be us moving around."
Nearby communities like New Richmond have a similar community-engagement program, and the Minneapolis metro area has numerous departments that host them as well.
Fobbe worked as a volunteer police reserve for Bayport, Minnesota's police department and its citizens' academy was well-received by the community, he said. Since coming over in 2011, Fobbe said he has had the idea to launch a similar program in Pierce County.
"[It's] beneficial for us to talk to people in a neutral setting, not a call for service or anything like that," Fobbe said. "The basic hope is that it builds those relationships, and gives people a little bit of knowledge of what we do."
Hove said she is helping lead the kickoff class, and that the department is trying to get all of its officers involved in the program.
To participate in the classes, people have to submit an application that includes a light background check and be over 18. Applications are due by Oct. 1, and classes start on Oct. 4 at 6:30 p.m.