Academy offers behind-the-scenes look at police work

GREENFIELD — The Hancock County Sheriff’s Department is accepting applications for its annual citizens academy, a weekly class designed to give residents an inside look at what it takes to be a police officer.

The 10-week program takes participants behind the scenes of daily operations, including the department’s investigations, jail and SWAT divisions. Those who attend will have an opportunity to walk through scenarios, from traffic stops to stun gun and firearms use, just as an officer would.

The classes are free and open to 24 Hancock County adults. Sessions run Tuesday nights, three hours each, for 10 consecutive weeks starting March 1. Detective Sgt. Bridget Foy, the program’s chief organizer, said she hopes to fill the class this year, despite applications tapering off recently.

The citizens academy is a great way for police to build a rapport with the community, Foy said.

Much of the department’s communication with the public happens after a crime has taken place, but programs like the citizens academy give officers a chance to interact with people in a positive way, to share their stories and be personal, Foy said.

C.O. Montgomery has lived in Hancock County since 1978, and he thought over those years, he’d learned all there was to know about the local sheriff’s department and what its officers do.

Montgomery participated in the citizens academy two years ago and found the experience enlightening, he said. The classes gave insight on the dangers of day-to-day police work and offered a peek at what happened behind the scenes of some of the department’s bigger cases, he said.

Since Montgomery went through the class, he’s encouraged many of his friends and neighbors to sign up, telling them how much he learned.

While classes focus on many of the same topics each year, the academy morphs slightly to touch on crime trends and other happenings in the community, Foy said.

This year, Foy has expanded the lessons about K-9 officers and drug enforcement, as both of those units are growing quickly within the department, she said. Since the last citizens academy, the K-9 unit has added three dogs, and the investigations unit has brought on a new undercover detective to focus strictly on narcotic drug cases.

Deputy Nick Ernstes, a K9 handler and a member of the Proactive Criminal Enforcement (PACE) team, which patrols Interstate 70 looking for drug-traffickers, volunteers as a citizens academy instructor each year and helps with lessons on those topics.

Ernstes said he enjoys talking with residents about his work because it helps get information out about department’s mission.

“We are only successful when there is a good relationship between us and the community,” he said.

Applications for the citizens’ academy can be found on the sheriff department’s website and should be returned to the department, 123 E. Main Street, Greenfield, by Feb. 24 at 4 p.m.

How to apply

The Hancock County Sheriff’s Department is accepting applications for its annual citizens academy.

The classes are free and open to 24 Hancock County adults. Lessons are held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Tuesday night for 10 consecutive weeks beginning March 1.

Application form can be website and should be returned to the department, 123 E. Main Street, Greenfield, by Feb. 24 at 4 p.m.

For more information, call 317-477-1147.

SHARE
Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.