Citizens Academy offers citizens an opportunity to see police work up close

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Constable Yelena Avoine rolls open a cell door in the Morinville News file photo. The 11th annual Morinville RCMP Citizens Academy is set to start Jan. 30. – Morinville News Photo

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – The Morinville RCMP are inviting residents to take part in the 11th annual Citizen’s Academy, an eight-week program of info sessions that give an inside look at what law enforcement does.

“It’s a great program and I wish other detachments would do it also. It’s been a great success for all these years and it’s still running,” said Constable Yelena Avoine of the Morinville Detachment, adding each year the program draws a wide range of participants.

While Avoine sees the sessions as beneficial to those wanting to understand policing more, she also sees a benefit to the detachment in offering the program. “Police work is not only about responding to emergencies,” she said. “It’s also about prevention and creating partnerships with the community. This is a great opportunity for us to be out there and talk to our people and to have them come in, see our detachment, and see what we do.”

Although the sessions have been running in Morinville for a decade, Avoine said the program is a rarity. “We’re the only one doing this,” she said, noting St. Albert Detachment started a Citizens Academy last summer purely for youth. “We always say as long as there is an interest we will keep hosting the Academy.” There is some talk at the Morinville Detachment of doing a summer program similar to what St. Albert is doing but with younger youth.

The current program, kicking off Jan. 30, 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 eight weeks to include presentations from a variety of speakers, focusing on their policing specialties: counterfeiting, drugs, gangs and what really goes on at crime scene investigations. Past academies have pointed out to participants police forensic investigations do not wrap up in an hour like they do on the various iterations of the CSI television franchise.

Inside look

One of the highlights of the eight-week program is the opportunity for participants to go on a ride along with an RCMP member. The hands-on spectator look at policing is optional, 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 try the obstacle course themselves.

While at K Division participants will have the opportunity to see the Operations Command Centre (OCC) where 9-1-1 calls are received.
The program runs begins Jan. 30 and runs each Wednesday night from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. until Mar. 20. Sessions take place at the Provincial Building in Morinville (10008 107 Street). Cost of the program is $40 for the eight-weeks, funds that cover some of the accompanying materials that go along with the program. At the end of the course, students have a graduation ceremony; receive a certificate and a Citizen’s Academy sweater.

Anyone 16 and older interested in taking part in the program can contact Cst. Yelena Avoine at 780-939-4550. The final date to apply is January 23rd, 2013. All applicants will have a criminal record check done.

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