Seven Liberty County citizens recently became the first graduates of the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office Citizens Police Academy.
It was the first citizens’ academy offered by the LCSO. The academy started in July, and participants met once a week for 12 weeks before graduating and receiving their certificates Sept. 19. The graduates were Trellace B. Miller, Royce Horton, James Maloney, Ansel L. Thomas, Trimain Brown, Onwar Brown and Rebecca McIver.
“Each and every one of them thoroughly enjoyed it,” Liberty County Sheriff Steve Sikes said. “They all looked forward to coming to class, and they learned everything about the LCSO. We asked them how we could make it better, and we got some pretty good feedback.”
LCSO Capt. David Edwards said 12 people initially signed up for the course, but a few dropped it due to schedule conflicts.
“I think this program says a lot about Sheriff Sikes and his initiative to start the program and keep the public informed in what we do,” Edwards said. “A lot of people think that we just pull people over and give tickets … this gave them a snapshot of everything we do.”
Horton said he learned a lot about how the department operates and interacts with the other agencies.
“We had probably six to eight different people come in and teach us different things,” Horton said.
He said the class went to the courthouse, the 911 center and the jail, spoke with a narcotics agent and a dog handler and learned every aspect of the department.
Horton said he was a reserve deputy during Bobby Sikes’ tenure as county sheriff and later a reserve officer for the Hinesville Police Department.
“There were things that I learned that I hadn’t heard about before in the way they solve the crimes and how they go about it and everything,” he said.
“I know that I don’t want their job … they are put in some tough situations, and most times they are always portrayed as the bad guys when they’re not,” Miller said.
“I just got a general appreciation for what they do and a feeling for what they have to go through and put up with. It was very enlightening,” he added.
Miller said he had never seen the inside of a jail or watched officers process a crime scene. He said it not only gave him good insight on what authorities do but, “It gives you an idea of what you can do to help as a citizen,” he said.
McIver said she was surprised at what she saw when they toured the jail.
“When we visited the jail, I saw so many young people behind bars,” McIver said. She said she was encouraged by the county’s work-release program that prepares inmates for jobs and life outside of jail.
Maloney spoke with Edwards and Sikes about the possibility of implementing a program he was involved in while living in California.
“We had a citizen’s patrol group, and we had a couple of cars and we would go out and patrol neighborhoods and shopping centers. … In the long run, you have volunteers that go out and check people’s houses while they are on vacation and things like that,” he said. “We did everything. I did fingerprints, I patrolled at school functions, assisted in car accidents. I was really involved.”
Maloney said he hopes that a citizens’ patrol group is something the sheriff’s office can implement in the future, and he would be among the first to sign up.