Citizens police academy begins at Cape police headquarters

Monday, February 6, 2006
Cape Girardeau police chief Carl Kinnison addressed Citizens Police Academy attendees Wednesday at the Cape Girardeau Police Department. (Don Frazier)

For most people, being led into a police department's booking room may not seem like a fun way to spend an evening. But for one small group last week, it was a rare experience.

Last Thursday was the first night of the Cape Girardeau Police Department Citizens Police Academy. For the next six weeks, civilians will meet at the police station every Thursday for two hours, getting a behind-the-scenes glimpse at police operations.

"I'm hoping you come away with something very beneficial," police chief Carl Kinnison said when welcoming the group of eight adults.

After a brief overview of what the department does -- which Kinnison said was dealing with "almost anything" -- the guests were treated to a tour of the police station.

Over to the detective bureau, down to the lockup, a stroll through the booking room and a trip to the dispatch center -- the group got to walk through most parts of the station reserved only for employees or those under arrest.

Some of the "recruits" said they hoped the program would offer them more than just the ins and outs of the department.

Mary Cole, a recent college graduate who currently works in social services, said the academy may help her decide what direction to go in life, in either using what she learns about law enforcement in her current job or even becoming an officer herself.

"Just to get a feel for the work that they do ... to see if it's something I really want to do," Cole said of attending the academy.

Some attendees were wives of law enforcement officers just hoping for an opportunity to better understand their husbands' work.

"As a wife, I'll get to see what husbands go through day to day," said Joan Kelley, whose husband works for the Southeast Missouri State University police.

To help with understanding what officers go through every day, academy attendees will receive different lessons from various officers with the police department in special fields.

The attendees get presentations by the K-9 Unit, crime scene investigators, and even on firearms.

Kelley said she hoped for an opportunity to let off a few rounds at the firing range, something Kinnison said was a possibility.

"It's not something you do get to do on a regular basis," she said, adding her husband does not offer to take her to the firing range.

At the end of the program, the participants will attend a city council meeting March 20 where they will "graduate" and receive a certificate.

The program, which is free and open to all non-felons, is held each year.

335-6611 extension 127

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