Civilian police academies growing in popularity

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The badge and the gun aren't all it takes to be a police officer, and police departments around Region 8 want citizens to know.

Jonesboro, Trumann, and Paragould Police Departments are all organizing citizen police academies for the new year.

Jonesboro Police Chief Rick Elliot said it's all about educating the community.

" A lot of people really don't understand," Elliot said. "They think police just get out ride around in a car, write a few tickets, and that's the end of the day."

Elliot said the 12-week citizen police academy will teach civilians about what police officers do everyday.

"It covers everything we have to deal with," Elliot said. "Policy, procedure, traffic stops, arrest techniques, little taste of what they face if they were going to be a full time officer."

Each week will cover a new department including animal control, drug task force, criminal investigation and SWAT.

Elliot stressed this will not certify anyone as a police officer. No civilian will be given a gun, but the department hopes to use the graduates for other things.

"We hope to use these people for volunteers," Elliot said. "We may have projects come up where we need assistance."

Elliot said anyone can apply, but applicants must be 21 years or older, have no felony record and other stipulations may apply.

Elliot hopes this course will bridge the communication gap between police and citizens.

"When we have good contact with the public and when things do happen, the public is more likely to respond back to us and report crime," Elliot said. "Which makes our job a lot easier, which makes the town a lot safer."

He hopes by teaching citizens about what it takes to be a police officer, a relationship of trust can be built.

"When something does happen then the community knows that that agency is going to do the right thing and be open, and fair, and honest," Elliot said.

Elliot said by teaching just a small portion of the community, they may be able to reach a large number of people. They believe those who participate will share what they learn.

"Any information that is spread about the police department is based on facts instead of any kind of rumors," Elliot said.

Jonesboro Police Department will select twenty individuals for the citizen police academy. It will begin on Feb. 5, 2015.

For more information contact Paul Holmes, JPD media specialist, at (870) 336-7297 or

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