Sixteen participants attended the first class of the Citizen Academy offered by the Susanville Police Department on Tuesday, Aug. 29.
Officer Richard Warner began the session sharing statistics and general information regarding current laws and the challenges facing Susanville citizens and businesses.
Of the sworn staff of 14, eight officers are available to patrol over three shifts, he reported, providing 1.25 officers per 1,000 residents based on the 2010 Census. “Citizen Academy is something we can do about that.”
John King, Susanville police chief, thanked the class for participating and explained that educating citizens to recognize who is in their neighborhoods and what they are doing is the goal of the academy, thereby making citizens able to provide more detailed information to law enforcement.
“The goal is to empower you with your rights to feel safer in our town,” King said.
A variety of topics will be covered during the next 12 weeks.
Staff from dispatch will instruct the class on how to be a good observer and learn what to report.
An officer from the gang task force will share information on the current gangs in our area and how to identify signs and activity.
Participants will learn about the common drugs used in Susanville, their effect, and how to identify an individual under the influence.
The academy plans to have someone from the Federal Bureau of Investigation discuss the current trend involving scams and how to defend against them.
There will be demonstrations of the types of resistance officers commonly encounter and how they can develop into violence, and attendees will have the opportunity to experience a training simulator.
The capabilities of the Susanville Police Department as well as the department of justice in regards to crime scene investigation will be discussed.
Participants will learn about the local community crime programs such as Crime Stoppers and Neighborhood Watch and their effectiveness.
Stacey Montgomery, district attorney, will share information about legislation that deals with the reclassification of crimes, reduced penalties and changes in parole considerations.
As a means of practicing their newly acquired skills, attendees will encounter mock crimes and take turns being participants or observers.
Toward the end of the academy, participants will get firsthand experience of what it is like to be a member of the police department by going on a ride along.
Officer Warner reminded the class of the importance of attending all the sessions and being an active participant.
Beginning in 2018, the Susanville Police Department plans on offering the Citizen Academy twice a year, giving many more residents the opportunity to attend.