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Police to host citizen’s academy this fall

Citizens of LaGrange will have the opportunity to learn what it’s like to be a member of the LaGrange Police Department in September.

Registration is already underway for the department’s ten-week Citizens Police Academy classes during the fall. The program will last for two hours every week and will put citizens through the same training taught at the police academy.

Training Coordinator Officer Eric Lohr said the program will allow everyday citizens to better understand what’s expected of police officers.

“We do a combination of training that our officers get as well as awareness training on what citizens should expect, including ways to make their interaction with a police officer a lot more positive,” Lohr said.

Community Outreach Officer Jim Davison said the event will teach anyone who attends how to respond positively in situations involving the police.

“Whether you’re pulled over, whether you’re stopped on the street, we do active shooter training with civilians so they know how to respond in an active shooter event,” Davison said.

Participants in the citizen’s academy will also recieve training on some areas of law enforcement, like how to drive a police car.

“We let them drive a police car at a limited distance at the training center and allow them to do various traffic stops and show them things that are of concern to law enforcement,” Davison said. “We do not do any of the physical training stuff.”

Participants will learn about different aspects of the police department.

“We have people come in with expertise in our criminal investigation section, from our special investigation section, from our traffic unit, K-9 unit, and they get to have some exposure and have some understanding about each one of those and how they actually operate,” Davison said.

At the end of the program, the citizens graduate from the academy and are given certificates from LaGrange Police Chief Lou Dekmar.

Usually about 20 to 30 people participate in the academy.

“We can take about as many as 50 people,” Davison said.

He also noted that the police department puts on training events like this one as a way to positively connect with the community. Davison said misunderstandings result in many of the negative interactions that occur between police and citizens.

“A lot of times the only interaction you have with the police is negative because you’re either a victim of a crime making your report, or you are the crime and you’re going to jail, or you’re on the side of the road getting a ticket for a traffic violation,” he said. “We want to show people that we are doing other things with the community besides that because enforcement is really a small percentage of what our job is. We’re trying to make positive connections and also trying to educate the community at the same time about the police and how the police operate and why things happen.”

The event also helps  the police department  learn what it can do better.

“It’s another way to bring the community together and interact with the police and at the same time we’re getting feedback from the community, so there are lessons we learn from it also,” he said.

The academy begins Sept. 5 and the last day to register is Aug. 28.

Anyone over 18 years old can register on the LaGrange Police Department’s Facebook page or fill out the form at the police department front desk.