A proposed association will provide support for local police, encourage others to learn more about community policing and help increase crime prevention awareness in Statesboro.
Statesboro Citizens Police Academy alumni plan to form an association that will also encourage others to attend the free courses offered. The next Citizens Police Academy is slated for May, with a specific date to be announced.
During a reunion April 23 at RJ’s Steakery, Mike Jacobs, a graduate of the first Citizens Police Academy, in February 2010, led a discussion regarding formation of the alumni association. About 25 alumni attended, in addition to Statesboro Public Safety Director Wendell Turner, Statesboro Police Community Relations Officer Justin Samples and former Statesboro police Maj. J.R. Holloway.
Holloway has praise for the program that educates participants in challenges, procedures and situations law enforcement officers encounter daily.
“It gives you a little more strength in the neighborhood,” he said. “It gives you a sense of pride.”
Having people learn more about policing also gives them power to help police. One graduate of the first Citizens Police Academy used knowledge learned in the class when he spotted a wanted person, recognizing him from photos he saw during the class, and notified police, who apprehended the man.
Turner said more citizens should take advantage of the course.
“It really puzzles me why we don’t get more participants,” he said, encouraging graduates of the course to share their experiences. “This (the alumni reunion) is part of history. To see this tonight really speaks to me.”
Academy graduates may be able to help officers in some situations in the future. Once the alumni association gets underway, graduates may find themselves helping by “being an extra set of eyes and ears” through even further training, he said.
Samples also spoke to the alumni group, sharing future plans for more academy courses that include “more practical patrol scenarios … a small firearms training session with Airsoft (pellet guns), investigations scenarios and traffic stop scenarios.”
Alumni will be offered chances to role play, acting as offenders and suspects in these scenarios, he said. “We want the students to have the feelings we (police) have, and want to really put (class participants) in our shoes.”
Graduates of the course “are a voice in the community” who can help relay truth about what policing involves, he said. “We need that.”
Samples said there is a possibility of advanced academy courses for alumni in the future.
“A police department is only as strong as its community,” Jacobs said. “And, it’s our job (as academy alumni) to help.”
During the reunion discussion, members made plans to form the association, elect officers, and create a Facebook page as well as encourage others to sign up for the course.
Citizens Police Academy courses last eight weeks and meet Tuesday nights at the Statesboro Police Department. The course is free and light supper is served. A background check is required.
For more information, call Samples at (912) 764-9911.
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.