The Public Safety Citizens' Academy is a free ten-week program designed to educate local residents about public safety operations. In their last class, which met Thursday evening, participants learned about the Columbus Police Department Bomb Squad, SWAT Team, and K-9 divisions, including presentations that featured the police dogs and their handlers in the K-9 unit.
Earlier in the year, the participants got the chance to fire police weapons at the Police Department’s firing range and use the Columbus Fire Department’s equipment to cut open a wrecked vehicle in a mock extrication scenario and put out an actual fire using a fire extinguisher.
“The Citizens' Academy is a great way to connect with our residents and show them what we do and how we do it,” Columbus Police Chief Jason Maddix said. “We let them have the same experiences as our City police officers and firefighters, from riding along on patrols to putting out fires.”
About 700 local residents have completed the Citizens' Academy since it started in the mid-1990s. Police Lt. Matt Myers, one of this year’s academy organizers, said this year’s participants had some of the best attendance ever, asked in-depth questions, and interacted well with each other and the presenters from the community’s public safety agencies.
This year, the Columbus Fire Department and other agencies joined the Columbus Police Department to broaden the scope of courses taught as part of the academy. The academy also featured involvement from more police officers and firefighters than in past years, largely due to the example set by Chief Maddix and Columbus Fire Chief Dave Allmon. The chiefs and all officers who present for the academy volunteer their time.
“These residents got the unique experience of gearing up as firefighters and performing some of the same duties we do every day,” Chief Allmon said. “As firefighters, we also benefit from the Citizens' Academy by getting to build a stronger relationship with our community. We are already looking forward to participating in next year’s academy.”
The 2014 Public Safety Citizens' Academy will give more residents the chance to participate. Information on how to register will be available soon on the City of Columbus website, columbus.in.gov.
The 2014 Public Safety Citizens' Academy is tentatively scheduled for August 21st through October 23rd. Classes will be held each Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m.