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Participants Graduate From The Park City Police Department's Citizen Academy Program

The Park City Police Department recently wrapped up their 10th annual citizens academy program and are looking to engage more of the community. Melissa Allison has more:

There are several requirements one must meet before being accepted in the Park City Police Department’s Citizen Academy program. You must be 18 years old, a U.S. citizen and live in or around Park City. You also must be willing to sign a waiver.

The group met for 11 Saturdays for about eight hours per session. In that time participants were shown how the police do everything from traffic stops and K-9 operations to S.W.A.T. and Use of Force.

Devan Bobo is the new victim advocate for the police department and said she thought the course would be a good way for her to learn more about the community.

“I just really enjoyed finding out how much of a community it is," Bobo said. "Everybody who came in recognized every one of the other presenters and they all have a good kind of friendship I guess between them. And I enjoyed knowing that people seemed to be working together as opposed to working separately which is, I think, a good way to run a whole community.”

Chris Katzenberger lives in the Kimball Junction area and signed up for the course after hearing a co-worker talk about it. She said some of it was more meaningful due to what is going on in the community.

“The gang scenarios and some of the other things that we’ve done in the course," Katzenberger. "And because of what is happening right now and then the gangs and, you know, drug situations that we have because we’re in such a prominent area for the I-80 being the transport location and whatever for all of that.”

Tom and Donna Riley sit it was easy to sign up for the program and found the information very worthwhile.

“We are very supportive of law enforcement and thought it was something we wanted to be a part of and by dumb luck," Donna Riley said. "I went on the website and there it was.”

“I was gonna say it’s extremely insightful just to have a better understanding of how they approach their job, the rules and regs they have to pertain to and yet the psychology and thought and insight that they have to use in order to do their job most effectively and in a very public-friendly way. My interest in enrolling was to get sort of that insiders point of view. I think that was certainly very well accomplished," Tom Riley said. "The instructors were fantastic and came away with a lot of knowledge.”

Sylvia Goff lives in Sun Peak. She said the course intrigued her.

“This entire class was so rewarding in every aspect" Goff said. "It was, and I think just experiencing the different law enforcement and their specialties was probably the most rewarding. Terry is a phenomenal individual bringing it in and just tying it all together, I don’t think he could do any better.”

Officer Terry Knechtel runs the program and said their goal is to engage the citizens and share what it is their department does.

“What our goal is, is transparency to the citizens and give them a better understanding of what law enforcement does, okay? And the different resources that we use like the fire department, the county attorney, the victim advocate as an example… Most of the thoughts and visioning of what law enforcement is is taken away from movies and t.v. ," Knechtel said. "They glamorize it, okay? We can’t solve a crime in 45 minutes, usually.”

Chief Wade Carpenter spoke at the graduation and said they’re looking at doing something he’s wanted to do for about 10 years – create the same experience for members of the Latino community.

“A tough element of this is making sure that we can have the resources and officers that can teach it," Carpenter said. "You know, obviously the full session would be almost impossible for us to do until we have enough Spanish speaking officers. We have several but have that meet their schedules and also have the expertise in the areas to cover all of those elements - that’s a little more difficult. But we are looking at, you know, a one or two or plus. And do it in modules to where we can create opportunities to where our Latino community has an understanding of what we’re doing as law enforcement so we can have a better relationship of trust.”

They’re looking at having the program for the Latino community in August.

I’m Melissa Allison, KPCW News.