JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - After 12 weeks of lessons, both in the classroom and hands-on, the second class of the Jonesboro Police Department Citizen's Police Academy graduated Thursday night.
The class started as a way to bridge the gap between police and citizens by giving people insight to the daily lives of police officers. For many in the class, it did just that.
"When you're on the other side of the law, you really don't understand what officers go through," Derrick Powell said.
Powell told Region 8 News that growing up, he started heading down the wrong path.
"I was young and I was doing the wrong thing and a state trooper that talked to me and changed my life around," Powell said.
Though that officer helped change his life, he said the Citizen's Police Academy gave him a further understanding and appreciation for law enforcement.
"I wanted to see for myself the things that they do, day in and day out, and how they think and how they act and everything. It really opened my eyes up to see that they're just human beings like we are. At the end of the day, they want to go home to their families just like anybody else," Powell said.
Now, Powell is working toward becoming a police officer with JPD.
"I want to set an example, that guy really touched me on how he treated me," Powell said about the state trooper he met years ago. "I want to do the same. I want to send out a positive message and I think that's what we need."
Though he's wanted to be an officer for a long time, Powell said before going through the CPA, he never thought he could do it.
"When you want to do something, you have to change people, places and things," Powell said.
He said moving to Jonesboro three years ago has helped him work toward his dream.
"Here, I've met a lot of positive officers, a lot of good people," he said. "I just want to be a part of one of those guys that is doing the right thing and showing people that officers are good too."
While Powell plans to pursue a career in policing, many others in the class hope to continue their affiliation with JPD as well.
A group of members from the first JPD Citizen's Police Academy were at the graduation to recruit new graduates into the Alumni Association.
The group, that has a five member board of directors, meets once a month. They are currently working toward a 501c3 status as well.
So far, the CPA Alumni Association has helped JPD do such things as hand out sex offender notification flyers and volunteer at drug take back events.
If you're interested in attending the 12-week Citizen's Police Academy, contact Sgt. Cassie Brandon at the Jonesboro Police Department.
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