By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – The reality of police work in Morinville and surrounding area is a far departure from the way it is portrayed in Hollywood. Starting this January, area residents will get the opportunity to see just what police work is really like.
The Morinville RCMP are inviting residents 16 and older to participate in the 10th Annual Citizen’s Academy, a 10-week program that provides residents with an inside look at the role police play in our community.
Staff Sergeant Mac Richards said the annual sessions are an enlightening experience. “You really get to see what is involved in police work as well as getting a good idea [about] other agencies in the community that are providing services,” Richards said, noting that many Citizen’s Academy graduates go on to volunteer with many of the organizations. “Our largest [goal] is to give an idea of what all is involved in policing besides the white car they see driving up and down the road.”
But Richards points out that participants in the program will get an opportunity to ride in the white car. Each candidate takes part in an evening ride-along with an RCMP member, giving participants a street level view of Morinville and area when the lights go out.
Staff Sergeant Richards said often times members of the community are unaware of what their community is like after dark. “It gives you a better idea of what’s happening in your community,” he said.
In addition to the ride-along, participants take part in a number of weekly sessions addressing a variety of policing issues, including counterfeiting, drugs, major crime and crime scene investigation.
It is to the latter that Richards said the program really provides clarity on policing and helps to debunk some of the myths about what people see on TV. “The CSI where we solve it in an hour and there’s always evidence, and the finger print’s there and it’s perfect, Richards said. “We’ll give people the true story.”
Staff sergeant Richards said the annual Citizen’s Academy is something unique to the area. “If we are not the only one, we are one of a very few,” he said. “Some run similar type programs, but we’ve got great cooperation with a lot of the different [policing] sections that we use as well as being so close to Edmonton we can tap into all of those specialized groups that you hear about on the news.”
Classes begin Jan. 17 and are held Monday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the Provincial Building on 107 Street. Cost for the 10-week program is $40 per person. For more information contact the Morinville RCMP at 780-939-4550.