Citizens Academy offers up-close perspective on policing

Although most of the people who hitch a ride in a police officer’s car are in handcuffs on the way to jail, starting Tuesday, June 1, citizens can ride shotgun for four hours for free in the new police department’s Citizens Academy program.

They can see crime, arrests and police activity as it happens.

Additionally, they can learn about the department’s history and see live weapons demonstrations.

It’s all a part of the department’s plan to break down the barrier between the community and the officers.

“It’s an opportunity for them to ask questions,” said Community Resource Officer Karen Pierson.

“Training will cover issues such as the use of force, felony crimes, community oriented policing and problem solving, traffic accident investigations, homicide investigations and much more,” said Bremerton Police Chief Rob Forbes.

“We will also try to provide a tour of the Kitsap County Jail,” he said.

Although Pierson receives citizen input in the work she is doing with block watch groups around town, she says it is necessary to keep building a bridge between Bremerton residents and their police force.

“One of the primary reasons we are having this is to strengthen our relationships between the citizens and the department,” she said.

The classes are limited to 20 people. Although officers will train citizens on the inner workings of the department, people must receive additional training to volunteer for the department.

Currently, there are 75 officers in Bremerton Police force, and a host of volunteers.

Between 2001 and 2003, the volume of calls rose 21 percent, but the number of officers on the force has not climbed.

Any citizen who wants to join the Citizens Academy can pick up a two page application form at City Hall, 239 Fourth St., or they can contact the two officers in charge of the program, Karen Pierson and Lt. Tim Lopez.

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