How do police detectives in the real world investigate crime scenes, or sheriff’s deputies determine when use of force is needed?

The public is being invited to learn about those aspects of law enforcement and more during the next Bartow County Sheriff’s Office Citizens’ Law Enforcement Academy, Sheriff Clark Millsap said.

Spaces are limited and slots are filled on a first-come, first-serve basis, a news release stated. Program officials said the 30 spots in the class were going fast.

Academy participants will be exposed to every aspect of law enforcement duties, from operating firearms to patrolling the streets, he said.

“This program has been a big success and the primary benefit of the program is building a closer relationship with the citizens we serve,” Millsap said.

Capt. Richey Harrell, who leads the Academy program, said the Law Enforcement Academy attempts to give the public a “better understanding” of the sheriff’s office’s daily responsibilities.

It also works to “bridge a gap” between the public’s assumptions of how law enforcement agencies operate and the daily realities of their operations, Harrell said.

“The public’s perception is often from TV,” he said.

The Citizens’ Law Enforcement Academy will expose participants to use of firearms, personal safety, jail procedures, administrative duties, criminal investigations, patrol operations, 911 operations, court services, serving warrants and the Civil Division, crime scene investigation, narcotics and K-9s, C.P.R. certification and more, a news release stated.

Participants also will have the chance to do up to three ride-alongs with eligible sheriff’s office departments, the release stated.

Harrell said participants will hear about how deputies are trained in when to use force on a suspect.

They also will get a chance to receive firearms training, including proper safety measures, he said.

They can either use their own firearm or one owned by the sheriff’s office on the agency’s firing range, Harrell said.

“A lot of people may have a pistol but may not know how to use it,” he said.

The Academy also will help participants understand how many demands are placed on all sheriff’s offices in Georgia, including Bartow County Sheriff’s Office, Harrell said.

He said many in the public may not know the state constitution mandates that sheriff’s offices in Georgia operate jails, serve arrest warrants and civil papers, and provide court security.

Bartow also is among most Georgia counties whose sheriff’s offices are full-service agencies whose deputies both provide law enforcement and their mandated duties, he said.

That differs from some other Georgia counties, such as Cobb or Fulton, which operate a sheriff’s office and separate county police department, Harrell said.

The Bartow sheriff’s office benefits from the program by giving it an opportunity to “establish a positive rapport” with members of the public, he said.

However, he added that deputies generally have found “a lot more appreciation” for law enforcement in Bartow compared to some other agencies nationwide in their own jurisdictions.

He said the program helps the sheriff’s office learn the public’s concerns and attitudes toward law enforcement in Bartow County in such areas as operation of the jail.

“It helps with clarification,” Harrell said.

There is no charge for the class but applicants must be Bartow County residents and 18 years old to participate, the news release stated.

Harrell noted the sheriff’s office incurs little expense in operating the program, other than the cost of ammunition on the firing range. It also plans instructors’ work schedules around the program, he said.

The 10-week program was scheduled to meet on Tuesday evenings and on one Saturday from Sept. 10 through Nov. 5.

Residents interested in the program must complete and return an application for processing and a background check by Aug. 22.

Applications may be picked up at the sheriff’s office’s administrative lobby Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.to 5 p.m.

They also can be emailed upon request at bethtidwell@bartow.org.

For more information, call Training Division administrative assistant Beth Tidwell at 770-382-5050, ext. 6771.

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