Ferndale police offer citizens police academy

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published September 7, 2016

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FERNDALE — The Ferndale Police Department will be holding a citizen’s police academy throughout the month of October to allow residents to get familiar with how local officers conduct their work.

The four classes will take place every Thursday during October, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. beginning on Oct. 6 in the Ferndale City Council chambers, 300 E. Nine Mile Road. For people thinking about attending, police ask that only those able to attend all four classes apply, as the class is limited to 20 people. People can apply at www.ferndalemi.gov/Services/Police_Services.

The classes are restricted to people who reside, work or attend religious service in the city or live within the Ferndale Public Schools district.

“It’s definitely to let them look inside a little bit on what we do, how we do things, (and) maybe they’ll see why we’re doing the things that we’re doing that they may not understand or even agree with,” Ferndale Police Sgt. Baron Brown said. “It’s just to be able to get that perspective.”

It also aims to show the perspective of why it might take a while for a case to be investigated.

“It’s going to let them see how long it takes, and it’s not us dragging our feet,” he said. “It’s a system. A system works slowly, unfortunately. It’s going to see the passion that Ferndale police officers have and making an arrest when something bad happens in our city.”

An example of that is showing what the officers do when they’re on a domestic violence run, and they’ll explain to residents why they have the suspect and the victim with their backs to one another and the officers standing so they’re face to face.

“Our singular focus is to make sure that nobody gets hurt and that we don’t get hurt,” Brown said. “Standing in that particular position allows us to respond if either of the officers get in trouble with the person they’re interviewing with, and they assault them or try to assault them or try to escape. It also cuts off that face-to-face contact between the suspect and the victim. It creates more comfort for the victim to be able to talk to us.”

Brown said they will lead attendees through a recent high-profile case from the initial patrol response and how they respond to the call, to what they’re looking for walking into a scene and dealing with collecting, identifying and processing evidence.

“How the detectives are going to follow up with interviewing victims, witnesses, suspects, how they put that together, how to weave the evidence that we’ve collected into the story that they’re going to present to the prosecutor to get a warrant or to get a search warrant in order to get more evidence because we don’t have enough,” he said.

Brown said they opted to go with this type of presentation to get attendees more involved, rather than having someone talk at them for a of couple hours.
“It’s going to be more interesting because instead of an officer saying, ‘This is what I do,’ we’re going to be able to throw up dash cam video, show evidence photos, kind of maybe look at some evidence if we have a case that is fully disposed of,” he said.

Other topics include administrative work, building trust within the community, how they deal with complaints, and the hiring process for officers. It will also cover the training it takes to become a police officer and the weekly training one goes through to stay up-to-date on laws and best practices on the job.

“It’s a two-headed approach,” he said. “We’re going to let them see the administrative side of things and how that, for us, is changing for the better, but also … let them see things on the operations side as well.”

Although he hasn’t taken the class himself, Mayor Dave Coulter, who said he’s spent time on police ride-alongs, said this is a chance for people to see how a police officer works.

“It’s more important than ever that residents have (a) true understanding of the nature of police work and that our police officers have a good relationship with the residents they serve,” he said.

Coulter said they’ve been moving toward a community-policing-model philosophy when it comes to the department, which means police officers building strong ties and working closely with the community, and this academy goes in line with that model.

“It’s about transparency with our department and building relationships between our officers and the residents they protect,” he said.
“We live in a day and age where relationships between communities and police have changed, and we think a key part of making sure our Police Department’s successful is to build and rebuild those relationships.”

What Brown wanted to emphasize is that the academy is open to anyone who wants to attend, even those who have committed a crime in the past.

“We want everyone who’s interested to get a fair shot at going through our citizens police academy,” he said. “If you’ve been arrested in the past or you have negative police contact, that doesn’t automatically disqualify you from attending.

“We think that’s important because those are the people that probably want to know more about us, and we want to let them get to know us,” Brown said.

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