January 13, 2018
by Brian Hughes
Crestview, FL — There’s more to modern policing than writing traffic tickets. If any student enters the Crestview Citizens Police Academy thinking that’s a police officer’s main duty, the mistaken notion will soon be corrected.
The annual free academy takes ordinary citizens, ages 18 and older, through a 10-week course during which, through weekly 3-hour classes, they delve into multiple aspects of a modern police force. Instructors are certified police officers and other public safety officials with multiple years of experience in their respective areas of expertise.
Through classroom presentations, demonstrations and field trips, participants learn how the Police Department integrates with other public safety agencies, the judicial system and state officials, including the Crestview Fire Department, Okaloosa County EMS, the state Medical Examiner’s Office, local attorneys and judges, and the Department of Corrections.
Students will examine equipment including patrol cars, a SWAT rescue vehicle, a fire truck, and handle an officer’s “tools of the trade,” including investigating a mock crime scene and lifting fingerprints. A visit with one of the Police Department’s K9 units may include a look at how these highly intelligent dogs partner with their human companion to perform olfactory feats of detection no human-made technology can match.
Field trips include a guided visit of the county jail, and after classroom instruction on firearms safety, an excursion to a local shooting range where certified range safety officers will conduct live-fire instruction.
Citizens Police Academy participants come from all walks of life. High school students interested in a career in law enforcement rub shoulders with young professionals, blue-collar workers and retirees who’ve often wondered how their community police force works.
Two graduates of last year’s academy entered the Northwest Florida State College Criminal Justice program and are currently training to become Crestview Police officers. Academy graduates are also invited to join the Crestview Citizens Police Academy Alumni, a non-profit organization that supports and partners with the Police Department on various projects.
The academy runs 10 weeks, excluding March 20, which is Okaloosa County Schools’ spring break. There is no tuition or materials fee, but applicants most commit to attending the entire course. A background check will also be performed on each applicant.
Citizens Police Academy applications are available at the Crestview Police Department, Whitehurst Municipal Building, 201 Stillwell Blvd., and online at www.crestviewpd.org, and are due by Jan. 31.
“You will love this class,” Crestview Police Chief Tony Taylor told students at the beginning of the 2017 free academy, then, to a chorus of laughter, added, “If you don’t love it by the end of it, I’ll double your money back.”
Citizens Police Academy Topics
Participants in the Crestview Citizens Police Academy will learn about these and other aspects
of law enforcement and its relationship with local public safety and judicial organizations:
- Patrol operations
- Criminal investigations
- Traffic enforcement
- Crime scene investigations
- Criminal prosecution
- Narcotics investigations
- Crestview Fire Department
- Okaloosa County EMS
- State Medical Examiners Office
- State attorney’s office
- Firearms safety and use
- Public information and education
- State statutes and guidelines