The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

November 13, 2012

Citizens Police Academy class draws to close

By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle

ENID, Okla. — The 10 members of the third Citizens Police Academy graduated Tuesday night after spending 13 weeks learning what police work was all about.

Enid Police Chief Brian O’Rourke said the classes were put together as a community outreach program so Enid residents can learn what police work is really like.

O’Rourke told the group that in the 32 years he has been a police officer, the department never had an outreach program and did everything in private. When he became chief a little more than two years ago, he wanted to start an outreach to help the community to understand what officers do.

“You get to see what we do in a very hands-on fashion, and a good time was had by all, which is just what we wanted,” O’Rourke said.

The academy aims to educate members of the community about the inner workings of the police department. It is free for Enid residents 18 and older and is a 13-week course held weekday evenings.

The program also allows residents to ride along with a police officer, fire weapons used by officers and SWAT members, and hear from members of each of the department’s divisions. Volunteers in the class were even subjected to being shot with a 5-second taser charge.

Class member Sue Chael said she did not volunteer for the taser.

“I’m a wimp,” she told a friend.

The classes included drug investigation and computer crimes investigation, along with other areas of police work.

Class members were Kasey Bolton, Kathryn Busch, Sue Chael, Roni Crosswhite, Stephen Glazier, Jarred Helm, Mark Keefer, Cindy Krey, Steve Marquis, Kristi Matal, Lanita Robinson and Roy Wahlgren.

O’Rourke said he considers class graduates friends of the department, but he cautioned them it doesn’t mean they can speed. He also said the third class asked the most questions.

Officer Darrin Morris recalled the start of class in August.

“I’ve seen you all more than I’ve seen my grandkids in the last three months,” Morris said.

Lt. Gary Fuksa told the class to present what they have learned to their friends and to everyone they know.

Each member of the class was presented with a certificate and a class photo.

“We cannot police a community by ourselves,” O’Rourke said. “We rely on the community to help us do what we do. We’re trying to get out there and get involved.”

During the academy, members were asked to critique each class as they went through it. Morris told the graduates that helped them refine and improve the way they teach the class.