February 10, 2016

Officers anticipate first citizen’s academy

Police officer Ilena Spalding holds a copy of materials to be used for the citizen’s academy. Staff photo by Danedri Thomspson

Police officer Ilena Spalding holds a copy of materials to be used for the citizen’s academy. Staff photo by Danedri Thomspson

Danedri Thompson
In the first of its kind locally, the Gardner Police Department will offer a citizen’s academy this fall.
Police officer Joe O’Lucci said the nine-week class will basically mimic a miniature police academy. Attendees will learn many of the things law enforcement officers learn at the police academy.
“It’s kind of the Reader’s Digest version,” he said of the class.
Topics during the class will include domestic violence, narcotics and firearms. And students will do a police ride-along and tour the Johnson County jail and intake centers. Because of the sensitive nature of some of the coursework, class applicants will undergo background checks.
“A lot of the information is law enforcement sensitive,” he said. “A lot of the procedures that we use, we don’t want anyone to know about.”
Police officer Ilena Spalding estimates a class size of 13-15 community members. She said applicants should live and work in Gardner and should not have criminal backgrounds.
The class is part of a new department plan to increase community outreach, Spalding said.
“(The class) will build a better bond between us and the residents so they can meet us and see that these are people,” O’Lucci explained. “This is actually what happens – it forges a good partnership between out there and in here.”
When he joined the Gardner Police Department in 1986, he knew many people in the community. But as the city has grown and officers’ work loads have increased, some of that has been lost.
“We don’t have the opportunity to stop and shake hands,” he said.
Graduates of the class will receive a certificate. Eventually, officers hope to host the class twice per year.
The class will meet once a week from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday evenings from Sept. 25 to Nov. 13. Graduation ceremonies will be on Nov. 25 in Gardner City Council chambers.
The police department will accept applications through Aug. 30. Applications are available online at www.gardnerkansas.gov.

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