It began in 2006: The Bismarck Police Department invited city commissioners and members of the media to experience police work first hand.
The Citizens Police Academy has grown far beyond what the police department imagined.
Crime Prevention Officer Pat Renz says, “Ever since then, we’ve opened up to the citizens and we’ve always had full classes.”
Officer Renz says Bismarck was the first police department in western North Dakota to offer these classes and hands-on training to the public.
Academy student Sunny Berg adds, “I’ve always seen the Police Department. You see the officers out on the road, and it’s like, what happens in between?”
Officer Renz explains, “We are a public service organization, we’re there for the public, we’re spending public tax dollars, so we want the public to know what their police department is doing.”
Berg says she got a real feel for police work when she rode along with an officer.
Berg says, “It was so intriguing to watch him work, and the passion that they have for their job out there on the streets.”
Student Duane Hoffert adds, “You watch the TV, you see how the TV works, and that’s okay. But then you realize, also, what he goes through if something goes wrong. It’s two sides to the coin.”
Hoffert had plenty of experience with shooting guns prior to the training, but says officers have an added level of responsibility when they operate firearms in uniform.
He explains, “They forget that an officer is also human sometimes. They’re human people and they have to make split second decisions.”
Officer Renz hopes this course will help dispel rumors surrounding police. He wants his students to know how and why officers do what they do.
He says several people who have gone through the academy actually went on to join the police force.
If you want to take part in the 11 week night class, applications will be available in the summer for the Fall 2019 academy.