News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- It's a new program designed to teach people what sheriff's deputies go through every day, and it's kicking off at the end of February.
Sheriff Richard Roundtree says this course comes with a bigger goal, a goal to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community.
"They are gonna get to see all aspects of law enforcement, they are gonna see crime scenes, they are gonna see investigations, they are gonna see traffic and drug enforcement, so they are gonna see the whole gamut of what a law enforcement officer goes through," he said.
He's talking about the Citizens Police Academy, a program the new sheriff is getting ready to kick off in Augusta.
David Beene lives in Augusta, and he's excited about the new course.
"There are so many misconceptions of the police department by the general public, I think it would be good to work hand in hand to get an idea of what the Sheriff's Department is all about," Beene said.
The course will be held once a week for 11 weeks, covering everything from crime scenes to the firing range.
"It's also gonna be ride-alongs with officers on actual duty, so it's not gonna be anything made up, we are gonna show them the real life aspects of law enforcement," he said.
The first group to test out the program will include people like Lenzell Ponder, one of the new members of the Citizens Advisory Board.
He says the course will be a great way for people in the community to get involved.
"I'm quite sure you'll have a lot of people wanting to get involved, especially those that want to see change," Ponder said.
"We want them to go out and be our ambassadors, let other people know, hey this is what law enforcement encounters, these are the strategies they do, this is some of the things we can do as citizens to help them," Roundtree said.
Folks like Beene say it's a good idea to show the community what it takes to keep us safe every day.
"I think it would be an excellent opportunity for the public to get a little hands on feeling of what the Sheriff's Department does, and maybe see that they are not really the big bad wolf, they help out," he said.
If you're interested in taking the course, it's free to the public. The Sheriff's Office is covering all of the costs, and you only have to pay for the academy T-shirt.
They're hoping to offer the course three times a year, and they hope to have information available on their website to sign up soon.