The Sioux City Police Department Citizen Police Academy has been part of the department since 1995 with the 44th class graduating earlier this month after 11 weeks of training.
This fall, Siouxland News Anchor Katie Copple went through the citizen academy to learn a little more about the work our brothers and sisters in uniform do.
The academy is held each fall, and after a pause for COVID-19, the 44th academy class met in August for the first of 11 weeks of hands-on training.
"It was very eye-opening to learn all the process they had to go through and we only got a glimpse of it." Kristen Sweeney is one of roughly two dozen Siouxlanders who took part. "It was just so exciting to go through some of the steps they went through in the training and it just really opened my eyes to the whole process together."
Each week brings a different lesson.. sometimes multiple in a night. We drove police cars through an obstacle course. Officers took us through firearm training giving us a chance to fire several different weapons. The Department's SWAT team suited up for a breaching drill at the training facility. They even showed us some of the equipment they have on hand for any scenario they may face.
And yes, we had the chance to try it all ourselves.
Department veterans teach specialized classes. Each one is tailored to give a first-hand look at how the men and women in uniform keep the community safe.
Trust is everything.
"In any relationship, the foundation is going to be trust and we have to have trust amongst each other of course, but if the police can't do the job of the public, it's the foundation of that relationship. The foundation of being able to operate in our society together. So we can't do without the citizens and the citizens from time to time need us and we need them and it's just a reciprocal relationship." Lieutenant Ryan Bertrand led several courses throughout the academy.
He and the other department leaders put us through scenarios officers could face showing how even a call that may seem minor can turn in an instant, making you think on your feet, trust your training and your gut.
"When we do the scenarios where we give a person like a fake gun that makes noise and we give them a scenario that they've never encountered before, it's so awesome to see like the genuine reactions to "how I would handle this" and sometimes it's over the top sometimes they don't do anything and sometimes they do way too much," Lt. Bertrand said. "But it's, either way, we all learn from it. That's the exact same process the police go through."
When we first gathered in August we were all strangers, but at graduation in November we left as friends with a new understanding of law enforcement.
"I think learning a lot about everything Police Department does I think we don't think about all the processes they go through and all the extra programs they do to help the community," said Sweeney. "So it really opened my eyes and realize that there's a lot that we can also volunteer to help it really out."
On the last week of class, I along with 5 others volunteered to be tased. You can see a video of that here!
The citizen police academy is a truly eye-opening experience and gave this journalist a new respect for our brothers and sisters in blue.
The Sioux City Police Department holds the academy each fall. Watch their Facebook page for when registration opens.
SEE THE VIDEO
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