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Police Agencies Will Present Training for Public

February 24, 2002

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Police Agencies Will Present Training for Public

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by Andrew Sirocchi, The World

Police academies aren't just for cops in training

In a first-of-its-kind event on the South Coast, three local police agencies will team up to host a joint training exercise for citizens in hopes of bridging the gap of understanding between civilians and police.

"We're trying to eliminate any of the barriers we may have with the public," said North Bend Police Chief Steve Scibelli. "We are the public's police. We want to work for them."

While similar academies have been held before, this year's effort marks the first time Coos Bay and North Bend police departments and the Coos County Sheriff's Office are teaming up for the effort.

"It's a program designed to give citizens an overview of police and the Sheriff's Office," Scibelli said. "It gives people that participate a look at each department and exactly what we do."

Through a series of eight classes in February and March, police will cover a broad range of law enforcement topics. Lt. Larry Leader, of the Coos County Sheriff's Office, said the varied curriculum will bring the community a better understanding of police.

What will be discussed is "everything from narcotics and drug-tracking dogs, how the criminal justice system works in general, what patrol deputies do, community policing, domestic violence," Leader said.

Coos Bay Police Capt. Eura Washburn said the goal is to paint a true picture of police work, from the grudgingly time-consuming work of report-writing to the details of conducting investigations.

"This is realistic information that's accurate and honest," she said. "It's insightful into really an esoteric discipline. Most normal people don't have much contact with police except through the entertainment industry."

Not all the classes will be held in a sit-down lecture hall at Southwestern Oregon Community College. Scibelli said two field trips area scheduled as well; one to go to the county jail and dispatch center, the second to a shooting range.

Classes will run about two hours each and a different instructor from any of the three agencies will lead each class. Scibelli said police hope to have about 40 to 50 people participate in the classes. Applications can be picked up at any of the police departments.

The course is free and to apply, participants must be at least 18 years of age, live and work in the Coos County area and pass a background check indicating a clean record.

Scibelli held previous citizen academies as chief of the Kelso, Wash., police department and locally, the idea of citizen police academies is not new. Coos Bay Police have hosted academies in the past, as has the Sheriff's Office. The agencies, however, have never partnered to host a group academy before this year. By combining their efforts, the three agencies intend to share in the cost of putting on the program.

"Each department is going to provide an equal number of instructors and we all agreed to share in the cost," Scibelli said. "It's a partnership."

Those costs are largely associated with administrating the program, Scibelli said.

"There is a little bit of overtime involved with some officers," Scibelli said. "There's the expense of materials to print, the expose with the range and the ammo, but the benefits far outweigh the costs."

The deadline for applications is Feb. 1. Classes begin on Feb. 6 with a trip to the Sheriff's Office, the jail and dispatch center. Graduation is scheduled for April 3.

The departments will provide certificates and T-shirts with the citizen academy logo on it for each graduate.

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