Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

April 2, 2013

Avon to host Citizen’s Police Academy

Deadline to apply is April 10

Wade Coggeshall

AVON — Those interested in learning more about the job of a police officer can get an insider’s look through the Citizen’s Police Academy.

Conducted by the Avon Police Department, it’s tentatively scheduled for 10 consecutive Wednesdays, starting 6 p.m. April 24 at the Avon Police and Town Court Building. Residents may apply online at AvonGov.org or in person at the Avon Police Department, 6550 E. U.S. 36. The deadline to apply is April 10.

Bill Weems, Avon’s assistant police chief, says they got the idea for the citizen’s police academy through another law enforcement department. This is the fourth year they’ve run it.

“We want to expose the citizenry to what we do, how we do it, and why we do certain things when we’re on the streets and conducting investigations,” Weems said. “We expose them to all those things so they get a better understanding of how we do our job.”

Participants get to shoot weapons and drive a police car. Detectives take them through actual crimes that have been solved and prosecuted. They can even be Tasered if they want.

“We let them shoot the Taser,” Weems said. “In the last class, we had all but one volunteer to take a shot from the Taser.”

The academy, which is free, also teaches the public how to be better witnesses.

“If something happens they know exactly what we’re looking for and how we’re going to do certain parts of our job,” Weems said. “Then those people go out and tell their friends what they experienced. It’s really multiplied our perception among the public of the job we do.”

Indeed, since the academy started Avon police have had a few participants return to volunteer in their office and serve as community service officers. They help with things like lockouts, Vehicle Identification Number checks, and minor crashes.

“We don’t really use it for recruiting full-time officers,” Weems said of the academy. “It’s not really full-blown enough for somebody to know everything there needs to be known to be a police officer. But we have had some people go through it who were interested in being police officers. Maybe it helped them make up their minds.”

Participants must be at least 18 years old with no criminal history. While the focus is Avon, you don’t necessarily have to be a resident.

“We’ve made some exceptions,” Weems said. “We’ve had people who work in Avon but don’t live here. We make allowances for that. But generally we try to keep it to the citizenry of Avon.”

Just the facts

WHAT: Citizen’s Police Academy

WHEN: 10 consecutive Wednesdays, beginning 6 p.m. April 24

WHERE: Avon Police and Town Court Building