Citizens Police Academy offers hands-on sessions with Warrenton officers

Adam Rollins, Staff Writer
Posted 1/6/22

The Warrenton Police Department is restarting its Citizens Police Academy, a multi-week program that introduces area residents to the basics of how and why local police do what they do.

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Citizens Police Academy offers hands-on sessions with Warrenton officers

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The Warrenton Police Department is restarting its Citizens Police Academy, a multi-week program that introduces area residents to the basics of how and why local police do what they do.

The Citizens Police Academy is an annual program, hosted by Warrenton police, that was canceled for the last two years because of the COVID pandemic. Police Chief Larry Ellard said officers made a concerted effort to get the program running again this year.

“A lot of work has been done, and we’re proud to announce that on May 4, 2022, the Citizens Police Academy will start again,” Ellard said at a Dec. 21 meeting with the Warrenton Board of Aldermen. He explained that a new city building on Walton Street will provide ample space for the program.

“We think no matter what the COVID situation is, we can get it done safely. We have enough room to social distance here. And we’re going to limit the class size to 20,” Ellard said.

The citizens academy includes six weekly sessions on Wednesday evenings, where citizens will meet with police instructors to learn about a range of topics, from the basics of the laws that govern police work, to hands-on training in how the police do their job every day. There will also be a firearms class at a shooting range on a Saturday.

Lt. Justin Unger, who helps organize the Citizens Police Academy, commented that it’s a valuable program for bringing community members and their police officers closer together.

“One of our biggest goals is to include the community and get citizens involved, to see what our officers do on a day-to-day basis,” Unger said. “They get to know us as human beings, we get to know them and show them what we do. It makes for a better, tighter community when we’re on the same team and we’re understanding each other.”

Unger explained that the weekly sessions are designed to include as much hands on experience as possible. Even sit-and-learn classes on law will include a presentation from Warren County’s Prosecuting Attorney, Kelly King. Other classes will involve field training exercises, ride-alongs in police cars, and hands-on police work in mock scenarios.

Unger said a past favorite for participants is a mock crime scene that officers stage for participants to learn about how detectives conduct an investigation.

“We try to get hands on with them to teach them, not just talk to them,” Unger explained.

People from all walks of life are welcome to register for the Citizens Police Academy. The main requirements for participants is that they live, work, or attend school within Warren County, and also have no criminal history. Potential participants are advised to review the complete requirements prior to registering.

Registration forms are available at the police department office in the lower level of Warrenton City Hall during normal business hours, or by going to the city’s website at www.warrenton-mo.org.

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