By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
HPD offers citizen's academy
Recruits sought for upcoming session
Johnetta Reid
Capt. Johnetta Reid - photo by Courier file photo
For those who as children claimed they wanted to be police officers when they grew up, it’s not too late. The Hinesville Police Department will hold a citizen’s academy to teach residents what police officers do.
The 22-hour course will consist of 10 two-hour sessions and two two-hour ride-a-longs beginning March 9. Citizen’s academy classes will be held from 6-8 p.m. Tuesdays. There is no charge for the course.
Academy instructors will cover (police) department structure, administrative operations, criminal law, criminal investigation, community policing, patrol operations, traffic investigations, training and support and law enforcement communications.
Participants must be at least 18, live in Hinesville and undergo a background check, said Capt. Johnetta Reid, HPD Patrol Division commander. Academy students cannot have a criminal record.
This citizen’s academy will be the fourth the department has held; last year’s academy was cancelled due to lack of participation. The department began the community awareness program in 2006.
“We started this so we could have citizens come in and see what we do and how we do it,” said HPD Chief George Stagmeier.
He said academy participants get a “hands-on” experience and learn about police procedures and how officers interact with the community.
“Academy participants will learn how the department actually functions, from support on up to investigations,” Reid said.
Reid said academy instructors are officers who work in one of the three major divisions within the department: administration (support), patrol and the detective division. She said each officer instructor specializes in an aspect of police work such as crime suppression, crime prevention, traffic and accident investigation or the canine unit.
“Each officer we put in front of the class is experienced in the field,” Reid said.
Class participants will learn about the training officers continually receive and the certifications they must acquire, she added.
“By state law our officers must qualify on the firing range (for safety and technique) once a year,” Reid said. “Our officers do this twice a year.”
Officer Joseph Madison, who is coordinating the academy, said the classes help build understanding between the public and the department.
“What we teach helps them (residents) understand why we stop somebody,” Madison said. “They see us answer calls and observe how we deal with citizens. It’s a lot of information. Once they go through the course and do the ride-a-longs, they have a better appreciation of what we do.”
Madison said academy graduates often continue to support Hinesville police, through volunteerism and by helping to prevent crime in their neighborhoods. Academy participants learn what to look out for, what activities should raise their suspicions and how best to respond, he explained.
“They know what to do when they contact 911, how much and what information to give (the dispatcher),” Madison said. He added academy participants will get a tour of the 911 center, to learn how emergency communications operates.
HPD officers also said citizen academy graduates become “like family.”
“They (academy graduates) become our moral support,” Reid said. “They’re always included.”
Stagmeier, Madison and Reid said academy graduates are invited to police department functions and activities.
“They want to help us make their community safer,” Reid said. “They become model citizens themselves.”
Madison said due to the transient nature of Hinesville and other communities across the country, many neighborhoods no longer have “a bond,” where neighbors know one another and look out for each other. The academy encourages participants to be good neighbors, he said.
“Even with people moving in and out you can meet your neighbors and get to know them,” Madison said. “And of course with our soldiers we welcome them and stand behind them.”
Sign up by March 5 for the next citizen’s academy class at the Hinesville Police Department located at 123 East Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in downtown Hinesville. For more information, call 368-8211.
Sign up for our e-newsletters