DPD Citizens Police Academy graduates eight students

From left are Ozzy Resto, Barbara Myers, Mary Jo Martin, Cecile Chiles, Sylvia Malone, Tracy Riffe, Clarence Meyer and Lawanda Clarke.

From left are Ozzy Resto, Barbara Myers, Mary Jo Martin, Cecile Chiles, Sylvia Malone, Tracy Riffe, Clarence Meyer and Lawanda Clarke.

In ceremonies Sunday six women and two men graduated from the Citizens’ Police Academy program sponsored by the Demopolis Police Department.

With laughter and good-natured ribbing, Chief Tommie Reese presented certificates to each of the graduates who made up the ninth CPA class since the program started in Demopolis in 2010. With this latest group, a total of 74 Demopolis residents have been through the nine-week course.

“Out of everything I’ve ever done, this has been the most fun,” said class president Mary Jo Martin.

She was impressed with how knowledgeable the officers are and how devoted they are to their job. Every officer had a part in at least one of the classes, Martin said.

She brought laughter and applause from the audience when she said after all their police training, “I think we’re ready.”

Each Tuesday night class was three hours long, “but I promise you none of us ever looked at our watches,” she said.

Mary Jo Martin, class president, receiving her certificate from Chief Tommie Reese. In the background is Lt. Tim Soronen, class coordinator.

Mary Jo Martin, class president, receiving her certificate from Chief Tommie Reese. In the background is Lt. Tim Soronen, class coordinator.

Sessions were divided between classroom activities and hands-on experience. The group learned about DUI, domestic abuse, drugs, cybercrime, the municipal court system and the district attorney’s office.

They also had a session at the gun range to learn firearm safety, were impressed with a presentation by the SWAT team, did ride-alongs and drove police cars, learned the basics of accident and criminal investigation and even did fingerprinting.

Lt. Tim Soronen, the CPA class coordinator, said some members of the class came into it only seeing “what the world and the media portrayed as law enforcement.” Going through the nine weeks gave them a better perspective of what officers really do.

“They get to meet our officers that teach the classes,” Soronen continued, and in the process got to “see the person, not the officer.”

City councilman Charles Jones Jr. complemented the class and said the graduates shouldn’t stop now.

“You’ve taken one of the most important steps by taking this class,” Jones said. “You’ve got to take it to the next step” by applying what they have learned to improving the city. “It’ll take all of us to make Demopolis a safer place.”

CPAThe ceremony began as Sgt. Monica Oliver, the Public Information Officer, gave a brief history of the CPA since its beginnings in the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary in England in 1977.

CPA graduate Melanie Soronen, introducing former graduates in attendance, presented Chief Reese with a check for $2,200 the group had raised to support the department. Reese, in response, said “alumni have been a large part of the police department.”

Members of this latest class range in age from 78 to 26. Several joined because their spouses or friends had completed the training either here or in another city.

Graduates were Cecile Chiles, Lawanda Clarke, Sylvia Malone, Mary Jo Martin, Clarence Meyer, Barbara Myers, Ozzy Resto and Tracy Riffe.

The minimum age to apply is 21. Applicants must not have any felony or major misdemeanor convictions.Check