The Ottumwa Courier

December 17, 2013

Ottumwa Police educating the community

Courier staff writer

---- — OTTUMWA — Have you ever wanted to know what it feels like to be a police officer? Or have you ever just wanted to learn more about the daily operations of law enforcement? Well, now is the chance to mark both of those off your list.

The Ottumwa Police Department is helping to make that dream come true for the entire community at their annual Citizens Police Academy, sponsored by South Ottumwa Savings Bank. Every Monday from Feb. 10 until March 31 at 6:30 p.m., class participants will meet in the training room on the second floor of the Wapello County Law Center to learn about all of the ins and outs of police departments.

OPD is taking sign-ups for the academy, which is in its fourth year, now until Jan. 3. Registration is limited, so those who want a chance to get in the program should call Chief Tom McAndrew’s office at 641-683-0629. Keep in mind that enrollment in the academy is totally free.

The Citizens Police Academy was created four years ago in an effort to help strengthen the relationship between members of the community and the police officers that help keep them safe. It also gives community members a chance to learn firsthand about the operations that go on in a police department, like an officer’s duties, how he or she carries out those duties and the good and bad consequences of their actions.

“It sounded like other departments were having a lot of success with it,” McAndrew said. “We decided to have the first academy four years ago and went from there.”

There is a special curriculum designed for the course, with different sections outlining different aspects of the police department. Included are sections based on department overview and orientation, administration, patrol division, services division, investigations division, gangs, ancillary services, animal control, officer complaints and the Drug Task Force.

Participants will even get a chance to use a gun at the OPD shooting range, and officers will use their Tasers on volunteers, should anyone in the class feel the need to be tased.

“We’re always looking for volunteers to tase,” McAndrew said.

As a part of the sponsorship from South Ottumwa Savings Bank, there will be a free dinner for class members at each meeting. So don’t let the fear of missing dinner make you miss out on this fantastic opportunity to learn from Ottumwa’s police officers.

— To see reporter Josh Vardaman's Twitter feed, go to @CourierJosh