Citizen Police Academy to kick off this month
Department looks to increase transparency and citizen awareness
By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — The Marshfield Police Department will put on its semi-annual Citizen Police Academy starting April 14. The academy runs for six weeks, and classes are Tuesday evenings from 6:30-9 p.m.
The purpose of the academy is to provide improved transparency regarding how the department operates, allow the department to receive feedback from citizens, and to supply citizens knowledge of how and why police operate in certain situations.
“I think a lot of it’s transparency. What it allows us to do is bring people in. It really gives them kind of a firsthand experience on how we deal with some things,” said Lt. Pat Zeps of the Marshfield Police Department. “It gives them firsthand experience. It gives them the ability to ask questions.”
Citizens will get hands-on experiences and learn about crime scene investigation, SWAT team tactics, the K-9 unit, and may utilize police firearms at the department’s firing range. Different officers will have a hand in teaching the class each week.
“We go out to the police department range, and they get to shoot our weapons, and we’ll have range instructors out there,” said Zeps.
Zeps said that the citizen academy has been going on for at least 15 years, though due to low attendance in some years it has not run. The element of the academy that Zeps most enjoys is being a resource for citizens.
“The thing that I like the most about it is the questions,” Zeps said. “What’s really important is that (citizens) walk away from this department having these nagging questions answered.” He added that often people want to know about the handling of tough situations law enforcement may encounter on the job.
“I think a lot of (citizens) walk away with just a different idea of what most police are about,” Zeps said, adding that most police strive to avoid situations where the use of force is required.
“I think we take unbelievable steps to try and avoid (using force),” Zeps said. “The last thing that I wanted to do when I went out on the road was get into something like that.”
There is no cost to attend the Citizen Police Academy, and all classes are held at the Marshfield Police Department, 110 W. First St. in Marshfield. For more information call Peggy Lindner at the Marshfield Police Department at 715-384-0800.