Nine graduates of the Demopolis Police Department’s Citizens Police Academy were recognized Sunday afternoon, and were also encouraged to remain active in their community.
“There are plenty of ways to stay involved,” Katie Windham, the program’s keynote speaker, told the group, “and this class is an example of that. Active, educated citizens are more involved citizens and are happier citizens.”
Windham is a vice president at Robertson Banking Company.
The group completed the multi-week curriculum that included weapons training, law enforcement intervention scenarios, self-defense and ride-alongs with DPD officers.
“This was informative and it was also a lot of fun,” said Class President Roger Willis. “We got to see what our officers go through every day. It was very worthwhile.”
Following opening remarks by DPD Lt. Tim Soronen and Windham’s address to the class, Police Chief Tommie Reese shared his appreciation to the group for their commitment to the program. He said the CPA is an important way for police officers to connect with the community, particularly since law enforcement is currently under intense scrutiny across the nation.
“Law enforcement is under attack today,” Reese told the crowd that included family members and friends of the nine graduates. “But in 30 years of law enforcement, I’ve never left my house thinking I want to kill somebody. I’ve left my house every day thinking I just want to make it back home.”
Reese also noted that a Youth Leadership Academy sponsored by DPD begins Monday, with another class scheduled later in June. He emphasized the importance of reaching out to the youth of the community to show them that there are alternatives to crime and violence.
Mayor Mike Grayson, in his closing remarks, echoed Reese’s sentiments.
“We hear a lot in the news,” he said, “but it all gets back to choices. Everybody has choices, and we need to understand the big picture – it’s a question of right and wrong. And you made the right choice by participating in this program,” he told the graduates.
The mayor asked all those in attendance to “hit your knees tonight and remember all our men and women in uniform. That includes our armed services,but it also includes our law enforcement, firefighters and our first responders.”
The Citizens Police Academy concept began in the United Kingdom in 1977 and first came to the U.S. in 1985. It is designed to give citizens a chance to learn about police functions, police operations and the organization of the police system. The program’s ultimate goal is to reduce crime through a stronger citizen commitment to the police department and the community.
Sunday’s graduating class represented the 10th group to participate in Demopolis’ CPA.