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BCSO announces inaugural citizens' academy in April

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Officers with the Bandera County Sheriff's Office will host the 2012 Sheriff's Citizen Academy, from 6 pm to 9 pm, beginning Wednesday, April 11. Sessions will take place on Wednesday evenings through May 30.

According to Chief Deputy Richard Smith, the academy will provide a unique and educational experience for the residents of Bandera County to learn how local law enforcement operates and how day-to-day operations are handled. "Participants will take part in hands-on activities and training that will illustrate the various aspects of the local law enforcement organization," Smith said.

Deputy Matt Johnson, BCSO community and public relations, will head up the academy classes.

"Our goal is to let the community see what we do as law enforcement officers," Johnson said. In addition to presentations by BCSO law enforcement officers, the academy will also include sessions presentations by troopers with the Texas Department of Public Safety, attorneys and investigators with the 216th Judicial District and game wardens with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Instruction subjects covered during the eight-week course will include patrol, jail, communications, investigations, court and community policing. Plans are also in the works to give academy participants an opportunity to ride along with a patrol deputy and observe jail staff and emergency dispatchers. This will enable citizens to observe firsthand how the sheriff's office handles incidents.

"We intend to offer an overview of law enforcement throughout the county and district," Johnson said.

The objectives of the Sheriff's Citizen Academy include:

• Increasing communication and building a relationship of trust and understanding between the BCSO and the citizens of Bandera County.

• Providing education and insight to local citizens regarding the job functions and duties of the sheriff's office.

• Creating a non-threatening setting for citizens to share their concerns with staff and deputies of the sheriff's office.

• Fostering, over time, a growing pool of well-informed "graduates" who will share newly acquired knowledge and insight with others.

Applicants must be 18 years or older, reside in Bandera County and possess a clear criminal history. All applicants will undergo a background investigation, including a criminal history check, employment history and personal references.

Applications for the Sheriff's Citizen Academy are available at the BCSO, 3360 Highway 173 North.

For the spring session, applications must be turned in by 5 pm, Friday, March 30, in person.

This session will be limited to 20 participants; however, overflow applicants will be given slots in the spring 2013 academy.

For more information about the academy, contact Deputy Matt Johnson at 830-796-4323 or