Oxford will once again offer local police academy
Oxford's annual program, Citizen's Police Academy, strives to bridge the gap between OPD and the Oxford community while giving insight into the inner workings of police department.
In an attempt to bridge the gap between police, the community and Miami University, the Oxford Police Department's Citizens Police Academy is starting up again this September.
The first session in the nine-week academy course will be held Sept. 17. According to Sgt. John Buchholz, the academy is held to better inform the community about the inner workings of the police department.
"The goal is not just to educate people about police work," Buchholz said. "It's for Oxford residents and Miami University students to get to know (OPD) officers on a more personal level. We want everyone to be more comfortable with how and why we do the things we do."
This is the eighth session of its kind that the OPD has held, but the first since 2004, Buchholz noted, because of a possible lack in enrollment and interest. He said it would be comprised of about 25 people on a first-come, first-serve basis of enrollment by Sept. 10.
According to Buchholz, OPD aims to enroll half Miami students and half Oxford residents.
Applications are available on the city's Web site, www.cityofoxford.org.
Classes range in content and location, according to Buchholz, to show participants all the different facets involved in police work. For example, there will be a session involving OPD's Special Response Team (SRT) at the Izaak Walton Lodge, during which time students will spend the class learning about firearm safety and participate in using firearms on a shooting range.
Another class will demonstrate the station's K-9 unit with exhibitions of drug sniffs and tracking by OPD's police dogs.
Officer Ryan Sikora handles OPD's bloodhound Scarlet and said his unit will keep the demonstration short and sweet, despite the lengthy nature of police dog training.
"We will probably demonstrate SRT entry into a room and a small tracking with the bloodhound," Sikora said. "The class is great because it dispels myths and misconceptions to people about our force. It makes the general public less apprehensive about approaching (OPD officers)."
Yet Miami senior Jen Brizius-an off-campus student-was hesitant when asked if this program would improve any OPD-student relations.
"I feel that everybody around here who is apprehensive about approaching (OPD), it's because they've done something wrong, that they've been drinking or something," she said.
Brizius said she believed this program would only be truly useful for those interested in entering the police force.
When asked about which majors at Miami should look into the class, Buchholz responded that no student would be excluded.
"We are looking for a student with an open mind to all possibilities that are out there for a career," Buchholz said. "This is an overview of our department; we aren't teaching people to be cops."
Buchholz said that there have been students from various career interests who have taken the course in the past, including Secret Service, FBI and pre-law students. Overall, he said it's a fun and close look at the police force.
Graduates from the course are also welcome to join OPD's Citizens Observer Patrol where they are actively on patrol in a partially marked vehicle. However, Buchholz said students are not required to take on this task.
Based on their available schedule, past graduates have patrolled the streets of Oxford, calling OPD to a needed situation, or patrolling residences that have been vacated during one of the school's holiday breaks. Members also aid in traffic control during one of Oxford's many parades and city functions.
Buchholz said members of the Citizens Observer Patrol are asked for a minor four to six hours a month commitment.
Additional reporting contributed by Stacey Skotzko.
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