By RICK HAYES
MT. VERNON — — A "graduation" ceremony was held Tuesday night for the 31 people in the community who attended the 2014 edition of the Mt. Vernon Police Department's Citizens Police Academy.
The Citizens Police Academy is a six-week overview of the inner workings of the MVPD. It is conducted annually to further the community-policing concept by: Building stronger partnerships with citizens, enhancing communications between police and citizens and to educate citizens about services provided by the police department and develop a better understanding of police procedures, information states.
In the opening session, participants received information on employment procedures, field training program and telecommunications. Patrol services and K9 services are presented in the next session, followed by the traffic safety division/accident reconstruction and bicycle patrols. Criminal investigations and crime scene investigations were covered by detectives, and internal investigations, senior protective services and chaplain's program were covered in week five. The last session covers narcotics investigations and the high risk team.
Major Scott Burge of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department provided an entertaining presentation on the final night on how the city and county police departments work cooperatively in training its officers in intense situations, including drug raids. Burge brought in one of the armored vehicles the HRT deploys, courtesy of Homeland Security, for the participants to view.
Mayor Mary Jane Chesley also attended the final session, thanking the participants for taking an interest in the city and taking the time to be educated about police procedures.
Some members of the 2014 class said they came away with a better appreciation of the work accomplished by the police department.
"I didn't realize how educational it was going to be," said Dick Jones, a retired citizen. "I was really impressed with it. My admiration level for the police department went up tremendously."
Jones added, "I thought it turned out fabulously well. The fact they do that for the community is welcomed. I would encourage everyone to attend the next police academy or whoever the time is available for them to do that."
Amanda McNear said, "Through education and networking, the CPA gave me a better working knowledge to be informed of the police department and various agencies operation within Mt. Vernon by promoting and offering this outstanding training. Also, because of the speakers from various agencies, I have a better understanding about the person behind the badge. I recommend the CPA to anyone interested in supporting their community."
A light dinner was served at each of the sessions, including a catered dinner from Bandana's on "graduation" night.