WALHALLA — The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is inviting Oconee County residents to sign up for an exciting new program that will give individuals a chance to experience what a day in the life of a police officer is all about.
The program is called “Citizens Police Academy” and citizens of Oconee County can sign up now for the classes at the website of the Sheriff’s Office at www.oconeelaw.com by clicking on the “Citizens Police Academy” link near the upper right portion of the website.
“This is an opportunity for residents to come in and be educated by the Sheriff’s Office instructors in the types of training that law enforcement officers are involved in,” said Sgt. Mike McGowan, who is heading up the program. “Individuals will have a chance to see much of the equipment that we use at the Sheriff’s Office, how it is used, and really understand the type of dedication it takes to become a law enforcement officer.”
Those who are selected will have a chance to meet the Command Staff and many of the deputies of the Sheriff’s Office. Some of the topics covered will be patrol operations, equipment and its uses, criminal investigations, E-911 communications, SWAT team operations, plus a judicial overview by one of the local judges, information on detention and narcotics.
On a Saturday during the classes, instructees will observe a SWAT team demonstration. At the conclusion of the classes, those who participate will be given a shirt, a certificate and a class photo.
There is a selection process for those who sign up, which includes a background check. McGowan is hoping to reach demographics from every walk of life in Oconee County, with the class size limited to 25 due to logistic limitations. The classes will meet for 10 consecutive weeks on Tuesday evenings with one Saturday meeting for the SWAT demonstration.
Participation in all the classes is important, according to McGowan, due to the fact of the volume of information that is going to be presented. Missing two of more classes may result in a disqualification from the program.
The dates for the first “Citizens Police Academy” will be each Tuesday from Sept. 2 to Nov. 4 from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. except for Nov. 4, when the time will be from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. because of Election Day. The SWAT demonstration will take place at the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Advance Firearms and Tactical Training Center from 9 a.m. to noon Sept. 13.
All those who are selected with be notified. There is no cost for those who are selected for the Citizens Police Academy.
“What we are hoping for is to continue our commitment to our Missions Statement, which is to make Oconee County a safer place for our residents to live, work and play,” said McGowan. “We also want to continue to build our partnerships with our friends and family in our communities in order to build those safer communities. Only together can we help to solve crimes and improve the quality of life for everyone.”
The other goal, according to McGowan, is to have a “Citizens Police Academy Alumni” with the first class. These alumni will have an opportunity to support the Sheriff’s Office by encouraging participation in future academies and to promote the Sheriff’s Office through their contact with others outside the Sheriff’s Office.
“It has been my desire to have a citizen’s academy where we can teach our residents the how and why of law enforcement. If one understands what we do at the Sheriff’s Office, it will allow us to be even more successful in solving crime because it will strengthen the partnership that we need in order to be successful,” said Crenshaw.