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Ketchikan Police Department planning citizen academy

Daily News Staff Writer

Most local residents know the Ketchikan Police Department building downtown, and most can spot a KPD vehicle from a distance. Most longtime locals likely know at least one KPD officer.

But it’s likely that fewer people have a fuller understanding of the Ketchikan Police Department — the detailed whats, hows and whys of police work here in the First City.

Looking to expand awareness, the Ketchikan Police Department has scheduled an eight-week citizen’s police academy to start on Nov. 1.

“What it’s meant for is the people in the community,” KPD Deputy Chief Josh Dossett said Monday. “... The sole purpose of a citizen’s academy is to give citizens a better understanding of what and why police do what they do.”

KPD Chief Joe White added that the department has “really amazing community support” overall. Still, there are times when something occurs and people don’t understand why it happened that way or perhaps why something took so long.

“This is kind of an inside look at ... some of the steps we have to take in order to make cases and go forth with them,” White said. “So I think it just helps bring the community that much closer to the police department. It will give people a good opportunity to interact with different officers in the department.”

In some ways, Ketchikan is catching up with some of the police departments across the country that have been conducting citizen academies for years now.

The curricula for these academies vary, and the Ketchikan department is going with basic lineup for its first academy that’s scheduled for two hours on Tuesdays and three hours on Saturdays before concluding with a graduation on Dec. 19.

Launching on Nov. 1, the KPD citizens police academy is set to start with an orientation and department tour and barbecue.

The second week will cover case investigations, constitutional law and search warrants, followed by use of force, defensive tactics, handcuffing and liability in the third week, according to the schedule.

Topics in subsequent weeks will include evidence and crime scene processing, drug investigations, DUI and accident investigations and traffic enforcement.

The final week before graduation will have a firearms orientation, scenarios and “simmunitions.”

Simmunititions are paintball rounds that fit into handguns, “so you are actually shooting paintball bullets,” Dossett said.

The Tuesday evening sessions will be instruction about the various topics, according to Dossett. Saturdays will focus on scenarios involving that given week’s subjects.

White and Dossett said the first academy will include 10 to 15 local individuals, and the department is hoping for a wide spectrum of local individuals to participate.

There is an application process. Applications are available at the police department itself, and on the KPD website at www.ktn-ak.us/police. The application form notes some circumstances that could disqualify an individual from participating.

KPD hopes to have the participants selected between Oct. 20 and Oct. 25, according to Dossett.

As this will be the first citizens’ academy in recent memory, it will help shape local academies to follow.

“Getting through this first one will give us an idea of what topics are popular, which ones could be shortened and which ones could we expand on,” said White, who expressed hope that academy participants can be, in effect, ambassadors for the police department in the community because they’ll have an understanding of how the department works.

There’s also a hope that they can encourage local individuals who already know the community and want to live and work here to apply for positions in the department, according to White.

“That’s what were hoping for, is to get some people that have a better understanding, and they realize it's a good organization,” White said. “It’s a great place to have a career, and it’s a good community to give back to.”