Farmersville residents are getting a chance once again to see what the city’s police force must do to serve and protect them.
They call it a Citizens Police Academy. The concept certainly isn’t unique to the Farmersville Police Department. Many communities in many states offer this kind of up-close look at police work. Police departments see the Citizens Police Academy as a marvelous marketing vehicle to help residents understand a little better, albeit not entirely, about the difficulties police encounter while enforcing the law.
The Farmersville Citizens Police Academy acquaints residents with several aspects of police work, according to Police Chief Mike Sullivan, who told me about the classes residents will attend until the end of the academy on Feb. 6. The segments include exposure to crime scene investigation, traffic enforcement, how the police prepare reports to present to the district attorney’s office, interviewing suspects and the victims of crimes, drug enforcement … just to name a few aspects.
Residents also get to ride along with a beat officer on his or her shift. Sullivan said his officers work 12-hour shifts and that residents are welcome to spend the entire shift alongside the officer. He said many residents often don’t ride along for the whole 12 hours.
Farmersville employs a nine-member police officer staff. Sullivan said he has one vacancy on his force but is unable to hire a replacement at this time because of “budget constraints” imposed by the City Council.
I went through one of these citizens academies some years ago in Amarillo, where I worked as an opinion page editor for the Amarillo Globe-News. I wrote a column that was mildly critical of a police department issue. A source of mine high up in the PD chain of command invited me to attend an Amarillo PD Citizens Police Academy. He thought my column reflected a lack of understanding about police work. He said, in effect, that I should attend the academy so I would know what I was writing about in the future.
I took him up on it and, truth be told, I had a serious blast learning about police work and had my eyes opened wide pertaining to the many issues cops must face daily when they suit up for duty.
My source at the PD, who has become a good friend, knew going in that I was – and I remain to this day – a strong supporter of police officers and the work they do for us.
The Farmersville Police Department, along with departments in many other communities, perform a valuable public service in allowing residents of their communities a peek under the tent at what their officers do.
John Kanelis, former editorial page editor for the Amarillo Globe-News and the Beaumont Enterprise, is also a former blogger for Panhandle PBS in Amarillo. He is now retired, but still writing. Kanelis can be contacted via Twitter @jkanelis, on Facebook, or his blog, www.highplainsblogger.com. Kanelis' blog for KETR, "Piece of Mind," presents his views, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of KETR, its staff, or its members.
Kanelis lives in Princeton with his wife, Kathy.