Editor’s note: This is the final story in a series that will followed Fairborn’s Citizens Police Academy.
FAIRBORN — Citizens took advantage of the opportunity to see the workings of the Fairborn Police Department from an up-close-and-personal perspective each Thursday for the last 12 weeks. These individuals listened to what it takes to keep the department running from those who perform the varying responsibilities it takes to do so in Fairborn’s Citizens Police Academy.
“Our goal is to help them develop a new perspective, a greater understanding and confidence about the profession and the entire police department,” Fairborn Operations Sergeant Mark Stannard said in an email interview.
Throughout the 12-weeks, he served as a teacher on some topics, but a moderator for the majority of the course between the students and official who would teach the subject.
Starting Thursday, Jan. 7 with Fairborn Police Chief Terry Barlow, participants first learned about how officers are scheduled and the code of ethics they must abide by to stay aboard. Stannard later presented a tour of the department, even offering a view into the chief’s office which drew “oohs” and “ahhs” from those who followed behind him.
“I’m still astonished at how far back they pulled the curtain,” CPA Participant Jerry Hensley said. “I feel like I got as close to actually engaging in law enforcement as [I] possibly could as a civilian … It is not anything like what I expected.”
As the Citizens Police Academy continued throughout January, February and the better half of March, attendees learned more about the legal system, OVI, crime scene and crash investigations, the Fairborn Jail, polygraph examinations, the K9 program, Regional Emergency Response Team and crisis negotiations, ACE task force, detective work, dispatch, school resource officer responsibilities, victims advocate, firearms and use of force, among others. CPA students were taught by individuals who work first-hand within the specific capacities in which the topics focused.
Students were invited to shoot a gun down in the department’s firing range and participate in a scenario that would have called for use of force, which is something participants expressed appreciation for.
“The live-fire exercises are fantastic,” Hensley said. “We had to engage a suspect and I’m telling you, you can’t sit in here and have your heartbeat rated at 160 beats per minute with your blood pressure up. It was really fantastic.”
Halfway through the course, students were asked to set aside a few hours to see the workings of the dispatch center first-hand and ride along with a patrol officer as they fulfilled their regular job duties. As CPA Participant Brad Henrich considered attending the course before it started, the biggest selling point was having the opportunity to ride-along.
“The chance to ride in a police car in the front seat, you get to see what they do,” he said. “You can’t get any closer.”
Barlow started the final CPA meeting, Thursday, March 24, by congratulating students on persevering throughout the course and thanking them for taking an interest in the department. He later asked for feedback for next year’s course and said the future of CPA may include more details on the hiring process. Fairborn Mayor Dan Kirkpatrick presented each CPA graduate with a Fairborn pin, while Stannard distributed shirts.
“When I swear-in new [employees] or am talking to a civic organization or something like that, I refer to the Fairborn Police Department as a large family,” Barlow said. “We are a large family and you’re our extended family now by putting in the 12-weeks you did.”
Ultimately, students recommended that citizens sign up and participate next year. It is tentatively scheduled for January 2017.
“I would suggest that if you’re even considering it, [reach out] and say ‘I’d like to do this,’” CPA Participant Joe Rayburn said. “You’ll definitely learn a lot of things.”