Department begins citizen police academy, honors officer

(Source: KAIT-TV)
(Source: KAIT-TV)
Captain Jeremy Ward (Source: KAIT-TV)
Captain Jeremy Ward (Source: KAIT-TV)

BLYTHEVILLE, AR (KAIT) - A Region 8 police department has created a program to teach citizens what day-to-day policing is all about.

Captain Jeremy Ward with the Blytheville Police Department said they've been trying to get this program together for a while.

It's called the Citizen Police Academy, and it's eight weeks long, meeting one night each week.

Students will learn about police work and even participate in some hands-on exercises.

The department hopes this will open up communication with citizens.

"This is something that will build relationships with the community," Ward said. "It will also give people that want to support law enforcement a chance to get involved and learn a little bit more about what we do."

Ward said they had a great response from the applications, and they have picked 15 to be a part of the first class.

He added they plan to continue the academy in future years, and students met Feb. 15 to begin the program.

After its third week, Region 8 spoke with Blytheville Police Chief Ross Thompson to check in on the academy.

"We had several officers working with them and they've all given such positive feedback," Thompson said. "They're enjoying working with the citizens in this environment, this learning experience, so I hope the students are getting as much out of it as the officers are right now because we're really enjoying it."

This first class gained a special name after the passing of one of their own.

Officer George Hodgkiss passed away last week, and the department decided to name the first session of the Blytheville Citizens Police Academy in his honor.

It's now called Session 525, which are Officer Hodgkiss' call numbers.

Copyright 2018 KAIT. All Rights Reserved.