FIRST DAY OF CITIZEN’S ACADEMY EDUCATIONAL, EVENTFUL

FIRST DAY OF CITIZEN’S ACADEMY EDUCATIONAL, EVENTFUL

Twenty-six Doña Ana County residents gathered Saturday for the first of six weekly classes on how the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Department works to protect and serve.

The group is the first Citizen’s Academy of 2012, and they spent the morning listening to a history of the 160-year-old department and how new recruits will bolster the front lines on patrol. They also watched a live demonstration on how deputies are trained to take suspects into custody during an arrest.

Sheriff Todd Garrison said he hopes the Citizen’s Academy, revived after a nearly six-year hiatus, will provide academy members with firsthand knowledge of how the various divisions within the department operate. He said he also hopes it will continue to open the lines of communication between the community and the sheriff’s department.

“We are not training academy members on how to be law enforcement officers,” Garrison said. “We are inviting them to learn how to be better citizens of this community, which helps strengthen the partnership we have with those who truly want a safer place to live.”

The class is facilitated through the Community Policing Division of the sheriff’s department, supervised by Deputy Michelle Ugalde. Ugalde leads members through six weeks of guided tours, presentations and demonstrations of all divisions within the department and support organizations, like the Doña Ana County Detention Center and the Mesilla Valley Regional Dispatch Authority.

“What we are seeing through the Citizen’s Academy is a real sense of ownership in our communities,” Ugalde said. “The people who dedicate their time to the Citizen’s Academy are the ones who want to know more about the men and women behind the badges – how we are trained, and why we handle certain situations the way we do.”

The current Citizen’s Academy meets every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon at the headquarters of the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Department, 845 N. Motel Blvd., in Las Cruces.

For information about how to apply for an upcoming academy, visit www.donaanacounty.org/sheriff or call (575) 386-4302.