By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – The Morinville RCMP are inviting residents to take part in the 10th annual Citizen’s Academy, a 10-week program of info sessions that give those interested in community policing an inside look at what law enforcement does.
“We think that it’s a good way to increase communication between the citizen and the RCMP,” said Constable Yelena Avoine of the Morinville Detachment. “It’s good for the people who are curious about what we do, how we do it, and why we do it.” Additionally, Avoine explained the annual academy is a good opportunity for people interested in a career with the RCMP or policing in general.
But the program is not just for those looking to enter law enforcement. The program is open to anyone 16 years of age and older, and the program has had participants in their late 70s. While participants vary in age, background and employment, Avoine said there is a bond formed with the participants and the program, and that past academy alumni often come back in subsequent years to volunteer in the program.
Although the sessions have been running in Morinville for a decade, Constable Yelena Avoine said the program is a rarity. “It’s not everywhere that there is a Citizen’s Academy,” she said. “It’s a really rare opportunity for the citizen to get that course.”
The program begins with a presentation from the detachment commander and a tour of the detachment. From that introduction to policing in Morinville the program expands over ten weeks to include presentations from a variety of speakers who focus on their policing specialties: counterfeiting, drugs, gangs and what really goes on at crime scene investigations. Past academies have pointed out that police forensics do not wrap up in an hour like they do on the various iterations of the CSI television franchise.
One of the highlights of the 10-week program is the opportunity for participants to go on a ride along with an RCMP member. The more hands on look at policing is optional to those who wish to take part, and a schedule is presented at the beginning of the program of ride along opportunities for people to participate in.
Midway through the course participants travel to K Division in Edmonton where students see the police range, and witness a presentation from the RCMP Tactical Team. Additionally, the physical test needed to become an RCMP member is presented and academy participants can take that test themselves. “If they want to, they can try it,” Avoine said. “Sometimes the younger ones are kind of curious about it.”
While at K Division participants will have the opportunity to see the Operations Command Centre (OCC) where 9-1-1 calls are received. “This is one people are amazed about every time we go,” Avoine said. “They love to visit OCC.”
Constable Avoine said people who participate in Citizen’s Academy come away with a greater understanding of police work. “Sometimes people will change their perspective ina good way after they spend the weeks with us,” she said.
The program set to begin Jan. 23 runs each Monday night from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Provincial Building in Morinville at 10008 107 Street. Cost of the program is $40 for the 10 weeks, funds that cover some of the accompanying materials that go along with the program. At the end of the courses, students have a graduation ceremony; receive a certificate and a Citizen’s Academy sweater.
Avoine said there is room for 20 people in this year’s academy and that half of the slots have been spoken for already. Anyone 16 and older interested in taking part in the program can contact Cst. Yelena Avoine at 780-939-4550. All applicants will have a criminal record check done.