I don’t have to tell you that this is a difficult time to be in law enforcement.

Even though the vast majority of Lawrence Countians respect and appreciate the police, the reverse is true in many parts of our country. That fact has to concern officers no matter where they work.

It’s also one reason I appreciate the Sheriff’s Department’s Citizens Police Academy, which will graduate its second class August 24.

Its organizer and principal instructor is Lt. Anthony Washburn, who is head of our courtroom security division. Speakers including Circuit Judge David Allen, District Attorney Brent Cooper, and Sheriff John Myers also share information about daily operations, the court system, K-9 program, drug investigations, and more.

The purpose is to help the public understand what police do in our community and promote trust on both sides. “When you get to know someone, you are more apt to talk to them. So the community can tell us their concerns, and we can tell them ours.”

            

Participants don’t just hear about police work, Washburn added. They try out weapons at the local police firing range and drive a police vehicle on a parking lot obstacle course. This year’s class was even more interactive.

“We presented them with scenarios we might run into and asked them to do some role play.” That helped participants truly understand the split-second decisions officers are forced to make.

      

With a better awareness of police (and criminal) work, members of the Citizens Police Academy have provided tips that assist existing investigations or open new ones. They are also better equipped to avoid becoming victims of crime.

Applications to be part of the 2022 Citizens Police Academy are available at the Lawrence County Sheriff’s office. The 13-week course is free of charge and full of benefits for all of us.