A new crop of recruits will soon start at a police academy, but they won’t graduate with a badge. On the other hand, it’s free and there’s no danger of getting shot or having to tackle criminals. Sergeant Craig Matzke at the Des Moines Regional Police Academy says an upcoming session of a joint “citizens academy” will give people a closer look at the job law-enforcement officers do. The goal’s to give them insight into what training’s required to become a police officer and what they experience, the firearms training, special operations and tactical teams, and other areas most people don’t know about. Sergeant Matzke says people get a far better understanding of the job of law-enforcement with this exposure than they did just reading the paper or seeing crime stories on TV. And he says it’s a diverse group that applies for the free civilian training sessions. Young and old have attended, some who are highly supportive of the law-enforcement community and some who were critical. But no matter where they’re coming from, he says participants get a better understanding of the officers’ work and a new perspective. Des Moines police and the Polk County sheriff’s department teamed up to create this Citizens’ Academy, which they’ve offered before. Other agencies in Polk County and around the state offer similar citizen academies from time to time. The sergeant says Iowans can go to their local police or sheriff’s department and ask for this kind of course, or just come with questions. He encourages people to approach them and discuss it, saying officers are proud of the work they do, and are more than willing to educate people about their job and how they do it. The 30 slots filled fast for Polk County’s citizen academy but Sergeant Matzke says it surely won’t be the last.
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