Shattering mystique of law enforcement

Deadly devices can come in any form, even one as innocuous as a Barney Thermos said Duane Mattson, bomb officer for the Bremerton Police Department.

He handed out fuses, boxes once filled with decades old blasting caps and the outsides of a M-250 to soon-to-be-graduates of the Citizen’s Academy sponsored by the Bremerton Police Department.

The inaugural class produced 16 graduates Tuesday as the group of 18 closed off its six-week course.

“We hope that you’ve learned some things about police work and what makes us tick so to speak,” said Police Chief Rob Forbes.

The course sought to soften perceptions people have about police officers and educate citizens about their work. Graduates received a certificate of completion.

Although Rose Bird reviewed police reports on a regular basis through her work in the BPD records department, she said she got a better understanding of what officers actually do.

“It’s much more difficult and there’s a lot more to it than I thought,” she said following the graduation ceremony.

As for her favorite section of the course “I can’t be partial, I was just interested in all of it,” Bird said.

About 20 officers participated in the program coordinated by Lt. Tim Lopez and officer Karen Pierson. Presentations included the inner workings of the prosecution process and a drug sniffing dog demonstration.

The dog demonstration impressed Jeremy Olson, a Bremerton High School sophomore. He was the class’ youngest member.

“I really want to be a cop,” Olson said. His dad saw a notice in the newspaper and encouraged him to sign up, he said.

Applicants underwent a background check and were selected based on their applications, Lopez said.

The Citizens Academy was funded through a Department of Justice grant aimed at homeland security programs. So far about one-third of the grant money has been spent, Lopez said. A second Citizens Academy could be offered in the fall and would be an eight- to 10-week course. Kitsap County law officers have expressed interest in Bremerton’s curriculum as well.

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