Citizens Police Academy builds releationships
By Lucas Simonds
Monday, July 10, 2017
AYDEN — A newly revitalized program is aimed at helping Ayden citizens better understand the police and how they can work together to build a stronger community.
The Ayden Citizens Police Academy held a graduation ceremony June 15 for the eleven citizens who completed the six-week course.
While the academy was once offered every year, before this year the last course had been held in 2009, according to Officer Jenny Clark, the community policing coordinator for the Ayden Police Department.
This year, the program was revamped with the goal of getting the community more involved with the department, Clark said.
“The community is a very big part of what we do,” Clark said. “We can’t be everywhere all the time, so we rely on the community to let us know when there are issues. We want people to come to us with their concerns and to not be afraid of the police.”
The course covers a wide range of topics designed to give citizens a broad view of the work needed to keep the department running and the variety of services officers provide to the community, according to Clark. Classes during the course include topics such as administration, investigation, ethics, use of force, animal control and communications.
“For each we have a specialist from the department teaching the class, so for animal control it’s our animal control officer and for communications it’s one of our dispatchers,” Clark said. “We want to not only let citizens know all the things we do, but also all the work that goes into those things.”
Those who completed the course this year agreed they gained a deeper appreciation for the work of the town’s police officers.
“This really brings you closer to the work they do,” said Juanita Nobles. “You know they have a dangerous job, but it’s so much more than just going out on patrol.”
For Kelly Thornton, who recently moved to Ayden, the course was also a good way to get to know the community better.
“I’m new here, so I felt like I learned a lot about what the police do and the problems they deal with, not just negative things, but more how the town works and the challenges there are,” Thornton said.
It is comforting to know the variety of ways the police are involved in the community, Thornton added.
“I never really had a negative view of the police, but it seems they’re more involved here than where I came from, and it’s good to know they’re looking out for us,” Thornton said.
Apart from the citizens academy, everyone should make an effort to connect with the police in a friendly way, Nobles added.
“It’s good to know your officers on a friendly basis, to know them by name and to be in communication outside of the times when you need their help,” Nobles said.
After the success of this year’s course, the department plans to offer the Citizens Police Academy at least once a year, Clark said.
Citizens looking to become more involved with the police before the next academy course are invited to attend the monthly meetings of the Community Policing Council, Clark added.
“I would encourage everyone to come to our meetings; they’re a great chance to get to know the department better and to share concerns. We’ll talk about anything that’s going on in town,” Clark said.
The Community Policing Council meets at 7 p.m. the fourth Thursday of each month at the Ayden Community Building, 548 Second St., Ayden. For more information, email Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 252-481-5834.
The Times-Leader serves southern Pitt County including the towns of Ayden, Grifton and Farmville.