Columbia Police Department accepting applications for Citizens' Police Academy

Monday, July 18, 2011 | 6:37 p.m. CDT; updated 7:08 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 18, 2011

COLUMBIA — For the most part, solving cases in an hour only happens on TV.

Sgt. Jill Wieneke hopes students will take that lesson, among others, away from the Citizens’ Police Academy, a free class for Columbia citizens run by the Police Department.

Classes include a police department tour, a canine demonstration, a presentation by the SWAT Team, a detailed explanation of a past crime scene investigation, and a question and answer panel with police officers, Wieneke said.

Participants also have the opportunity to use driving and use-of-force simulators, which electronically mimic police scenarios and allow participants to make decisions about how to react in emergency situations.

The academy is open to adults in Columbia 18 years and older, and is scheduled to be held each Wednesday in August from 6 to 9 p.m.

Wieneke said that a wide range of people typically sign up for the class.

“The vast majority are people anywhere from college-age people to people in their 60s that want to learn a little about the department,” Wieneke said. “It gives them an opportunity to see the internal workings and how we train, and to get a better feel of what we do beyond what they see on TV.”

Class sizes are limited to 25 students. An application must be filled out online and those interested must make it through a basic screening process in order to be considered. As of Monday, the Police Department had received about 10 applicants for the August session, Wieneke said.

Once students complete the session, they are given the opportunity to sign up for a ride-along in a police car if they are interested. Wieneke said that people sometimes choose to volunteer at the department after finishing the course.

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