GREENFIELD — After a successful first run of its citizen’s academy, the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department is once again opening its doors to those who want a behind-the-scenes look at police work.
While citizen’s academies have been popular in years past at neighboring departments, 2013 marked the first year the sheriff’s department planned an extensive police program for the public.
And it was met with rave reviews, organizers said.
“I think it was … very successful, and we had some ideas, some little tweaks for the next one,” Sheriff Mike Shepherd said.
This year’s course kicks off March 4 and runs for 10 weeks. Classes will be held each Tuesday from 6:30-9:30 p.m.
Shepherd said he is looking forward to holding the academy classes at the department’s new facility at the county shooting range on East U.S. 40.
Lt. Bridget Foy, who led the class last year, will be returning to guide participants through each unit of the course.
“I think it’s a great way for the community to bridge to law enforcement,” she said. “I think it’s a good way to … open communication between folks and us.”
Foy said she allows time for questions during each class in an effort to make sure citizens leave with their questions answered.
“We’re very transparent about ourselves and very honest,” she said. “I think it creates a better understanding of the jobs we do.”
The academy doesn’t aim to turn anyone into a deputy but is intended to help citizens become more informed about how to respond if they witness a crime or become a victim.
Participants will also learn more about everyday police work and the training involved.
The academy will draw on the expertise of multiple deputies from within the department, and each will be responsible for teaching a portion of the class.
Last year, Deputy Aaron Fawver visited the class with his police dog, Flash.
He spoke with members of the academy about the training it took for the 8-year-old German shepherd to learn to sniff out drugs and suspects alike.
He concluded the presentation with a short demonstration. With the help of a protective “bite sleeve” that shields a person from the dog’s unforgiving teeth, he showed participants how Flash is trained to forcibly apprehend a suspect who won’t surrender.
Fawver said he received positive feedback, and the demonstration seemed to be an eye-opening experience for the participants.
“It’s something the everyday public doesn’t see all the time, and they don’t really know how the K9s work,” he said. “It really gave us a chance to demonstrate and talk about how they work on a daily basis.”