When Edmond resident Aubrey King enrolled in the inaugural class of the Edmond Police Department’s Citizens Academy, he had a personal reason. His own son was a police captain, and King had dealings with law enforcement in the past. So when the citizens academy formed, he was among the first to sign up. “The first one was held in 1997, and I was one of the first to graduate through the academy,” said King. “Those of us in 1997 wanted to do something with the knowledge we had learned in the academy and we wanted to support the Edmond police officers. We decided to form a citizens alumni association.”
Fifteen years later, not only is the citizens academy still going strong, the Edmond Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association (ECPAAA) is as well. The graduates of the academy participate in the training and also help support the department through fundraisers and special events.
The Edmond Citizens Police Academy is a free 13-week series of classes that bring community residents together with the Edmond Police Department to learn about police policies and practices. Held twice a year, the classes do not train people to become police officers, but are designed to show firsthand the day-to-day responsibilities of the officers and staff.
“It’s one of the best programs we’ve ever started in Edmond,” said Police Deputy Chief Steve Thompson. “It’s designed for citizens to learn what police officers do and why they do it. To be honest, some people come in with a negative outlook on officers, and the course totally changes their outlook.”
Throughout the course, participants learn about a variety of police procedures, from accident investigation, firearms and crime scene investigation to special investigations and use of force. “We like to think we have the best police department in the United States, and most people in the academy see the quality of our officers and how professional they are and say that Edmond has the most professional police department they have ever encountered,” said Thompson. “Then, when they go back to the community and someone slams the police for something, the graduates can share their experience and why police officers do what they do.”
“People sometimes have a negative concept of police officers; they just think the officers are out to get them,” said King. “It’s not true. Edmond has the best police department in the state, and was named the 11th safest city of our size in the United States by the FBI. That’s because of the police.”
Because of this firsthand look that the citizens academy provides, King adds that graduates form a higher respect for the work police officers do. “After you go through the course, you have a much greater respect for officers. The citizens police academy is free, and I think everyone in Edmond should go through it,” he said.
To help carry on the spirit of learning and support, the ECPAAA meets once a month for lunch to hear speakers from the Edmond Police Department explain department roles or new technology. On October 11, the alumni association will host their 10th annual golf tournament at Oak Tree Golf and Country Club to raise funds for an annual banquet. In November, the alumni association will host the annual Police Officer Recognition Dinner. “I feel strongly about this dinner and naming the Police Officer of the Year,” said King. “The officers themselves – not the administration – vote for their peers as outstanding officer of the year. It’s a big honor.”
More importantly, the alumni association continues to give Edmond police officers support and appreciation. “We are 79 members strong,” said King. “One of the main things we noticed is that when we took the class, we didn’t realize how good our Edmond officers are and how effective they are at solving crimes. Edmond has evolved even more into a safer city because of them.”
For more information about the ECPAAA Golf Tournament or Police Recognition Banquet, go to www.edmondcpaaa.org or call King at 340-2368. For more information about the Citizens Police Academy, call 359-4437.