Cit­i­zens Po­lice Academy of­fers chance to ask of­fi­cers tough ques­tions

Chattanooga Times Free Press - - OBITUARIES - BY MYRON MAD­DEN STAFF WRITER Con­tact staff writer Myron Mad­den at mmad­[email protected] freep­ress.com.

Those cu­ri­ous about the in­ter­nal work­ings of the city’s po­lice force are in luck.

Start­ing March 7, the Chat­tanooga Po­lice Depart­ment will once again host its Cit­i­zens Po­lice Academy to give civil­ians a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of lo­cal law en­force­ment and the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem.

Over the course of nine weeks, par­tic­i­pants will hear from rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Vic­tim Ser­vices Unit, Cri­sis In­ter­ven­tion Team, Crime Pre­ven­tion of­fice, S.W.A.T. and more to learn about the re­al­i­ties of po­lice cul­ture.

“People are of­ten shocked that what you see on TV is not the whole case, and they’re ac­tu­ally sur­prised at ev­ery­thing we have to go through to do one case,” said Sgt. Wayne Jef­fer­son, with the Of­fice of Com­mu­nity Out­reach. “Over­all, even people that come through who didn’t like po­lice leave with a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude.”

Part of the academy’s goal is to fos­ter a more un­der­stand­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween po­lice and the com­mu­nity, said CPD spokes­woman Elisa Myzal. As such, each class is an open fo­rum, with plenty of op­por­tu­nity for par­tic­i­pants to ask ques­tions of law en­force­ment per­son­nel.

Some of the ques­tions Jef­fer­son and Myzal said they’ve heard most fre­quently in­clude: “Why are po­lice of­fi­cers shoot­ing black people?” “Why don’t we have more fe­male or His­panic of­fi­cers on the force?” “What are we do­ing about speed­ers?” and “Why do you leave the body out dur­ing crime scenes?”

“We answer all ques­tions,” Jef­fer­son said. “You may not like the answer, but we’re go­ing to answer them if we can.”

While ben­e­fi­cial for cit­i­zens seek­ing an­swers, the open fo­rum for­mat also pro­vides an ex­cel­lent op­por­tu­nity for of­fi­cers to get a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of the on­go­ing chal­lenges within in­di­vid­ual neigh­bor­hoods, en­abling the po­lice depart­ment to re­lo­cate its as­sets to the ar­eas they are needed the most, if nec­es­sary, said Jef­fer­son.

“Bot­tom line: Bad guys know [it’s the po­lice] when a black-and­white car drives through with lights on. We don’t see 90 per­cent of the stuff that’s go­ing on, but the people in the com­mu­nity do. They give us, a lot of time, a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of how we can ben­e­fit cer­tain ar­eas of Chat­tanooga,” he said.

Classes will be Thurs­day evenings from 6-8 p.m. in the CPD’s train­ing fa­cil­ity, lo­cated at 3200 Am­ni­cola High­way. To ap­ply, email wj­ef­fer­[email protected]­tanooga. gov or visit tinyurl.com/CPD Ci­ti­zen­sPo­liceA­cademy. The dead­line to ap­ply is Feb. 25. There is no cost.

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