State troopers to host citizen academy

If area residents have ever wondered exactly what it is that Alaska State Troopers do all day, now’s their chance to find out.

The troopers’ E Detachment, which covers the Kenai Peninsula, will host a citizen academy starting in the new year from Jan. 11, through April 5. The crash course, complete with guest lecturers, will be taught on Wednesday evenings from 6-9 p.m. until March 29, along with one or two Saturday morning sessions, according to a release from the troopers.

Citizen police academies began in the United Kingdom in 1977 and eventually making their way across the United State and to Alaska, according to the National Citizens Police Academy Association website. The point of the academies is to let community members know a bit more about the behind the scenes work troopers do than they would normally be exposed to.

“They definitely will kind of get a better understanding of what it is that the troopers do,” said Mallory Millay, academy coordinator.

Some of the academy has to do with correcting misconceptions people sometimes have about police officers based on television shows, like Alaska State Troopers, said Lt. Dane Gilmore, deputy commander of the E Detachment.

“I think a lot of people go into it with a lot of misunderstandings and assumptions,” he said.

Those who sign up for the citizens academy will learn the basics of being a trooper, as well as more in-depth information about some of the special units, like local detachment’s squad of the Statewide Drug Enforcement Unit and the Special Emergency Reaction Team, Gilmore said.

“It’s a brief overview of as many aspects as we can cover in that period of time,” he said.

There will be between one and three presenters per week teaching attendees about a different topic, Gilmore said. They’ll cover everything from search and rescue to the department aircraft, he said. A member of the Federal Bureau of Investigation will also give a presentation.

Those who attend the academy will graduate April 5, 2017. While there is no official test students have to take to graduate, Gilmore said he administers one at the start of the academy to test general knowledge of police work. He shows that test to participants again once they’ve completed the academy so they can see how their knowledge or perspectives have changed.

Gilmore said the academy attracts people of all ages, from high school students to the elderly, like one 82-year-old attendee at the last session. Most police academies require that participants be at least 18 years old, but Gilmore said the E Detachment opens its academy up to 17-year-olds in case any high school students are considering a career in the field and want to learn more.

Millay said the academy attracts return participants who attend for multiple years, and that it is popular within the peninsula community.

Applications for the academy are due by 4:30 p.m. Dec. 12, and the class is limited to 30 students. Those interested can get applications by calling 907-260-2701 or visiting the E Detachment in Soldotna, Millay said.

Megan Pacer can be reached at megan.pacer@peninsulaclarion.com.

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