Citizens academies offer unique look inside police, fire departments

f you haven’t had the opportunity to participate in one of the Citizens Academies held by the Minot Fire Department or the Minot Police Department, I’d strongly encourage you to give it a try. The experience will truly open your eyes to what our Police and Fire departments do on a daily basis. More importantly, it will give you a unique, first-hand look at the people behind the uniforms, and the very real dangers they face every day on the job.

Having been through the Police Department academy in 2018, I’m fully aware of what awaits this year’s participants. Based on my own experience, those attending the police academy this year will almost certainly change any preconceived ideas they have about what the Minot Police Department does on a daily basis. In reality, unless you’re in the law enforcement field, you really have no idea what officers go through every time they put on that uniform and report for duty. You can sign up through April 22 by calling Senior Officer Aaron Moss at 857-4711 or by filling out an application online at https://www.minotnd.org/647/Citizens-Public-Safety-Academy or in the lobby of the Police Department.

The Police Academy, which runs for four Tuesdays in May from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., will not only teach participants about what the Police Department does, but, perhaps more importantly, it will teach participants about why the Police Department does what it does. That’s a big difference, and it will help residents understand the philosophies and policies at the Police Department. Minot has always enjoyed a positive relationship between residents and law enforcement agencies. The Citizens Academy is designed to enhance that relationship by continuing to educate the public through one-on-one communication.

Participants will learn about the day-to-day operations of the Police Department, including patrol operations, equipment, and vehicles. Other session focus on SWAT tactics, the bomb squad and its various duties, and the department’s K9 units. The crime scene session was particularly interesting to me; trust me, what you see on television crime shows is not reality. In fact, law enforcement officers have a saying in response to unrealistic portrayals of crime scene analysis: It’s called the CSI effect. In reality, not every crime is neatly wrapped up in an hour.

One session is dedicated to discussions of the use of force, which includes an opportunity to fire police weapons under supervision. The use of force is a topic of discussion nationwide, and it’s a lot more complicated than you think. Participants will discuss state and federal laws, legal authority for use of force, case laws regarding use of force, and simulated scenarios where attendees will take part in shoot/don’t shoot options. It’s a fascinating topic that challenges every law enforcement agency at some point.

The Fire Department Academy has been condensed into one day, running from noon to 8 p.m. on June 1. Topics include search and rescue, repelling, auto extrications, and aerial operations. You can register by contacting Battalion Chief Glen Hardy at glen.hardy@minotnd.org.

Fire Department officials will focus on the philosophies and requirements necessary to fulfill the department’s mission of “trained, maintained, and ready.” For instance, did you know the Minot Fire Department is the primary responder for northwest North Dakota for hazardous materials and technical rescue situations? Did you know that together the members of the Fire Control Division complete an average of 25,000 hours of training every year?

There’s a good chance that when the firefighters on duty in Minot aren’t responding to a call for service, they’re doing some type of training, either in the classroom, training on a piece of firefighting equipment, or working to keep themselves in good physical condition to handle the rigors of their job. There’s not a lot of actual down time at the City’s four fire stations; rather, down time is training time.

These academies provide an opportunity for citizens to learn what goes on behind the scenes in two of our departments that have daily interactions with members of the public. Again, I’d encourage you to use these sessions to help you gain a better understanding of the role our public servants play in providing safety and security to the Minot community.

Sincerely, City Hall

You can find more about what’s happening at the City of Minot at minotnd.org, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. We’d also encourage you to sign up for our monthly electronic newsletter on our website.

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