It was graduation day from the Citizen’s Academy for 34 people from all walks of life on Saturday.
The 7-week course is offered by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office and the UCSB Police Department.
“I went in knowing very little. I went in with the predisposition thinking I knew more than I did about cops,” said graduate Kris Hosford.
The participants are different ages, from various backgrounds and have different career goals.
Hosford is interested in a career in law enforcement. He said officers were open about what the job entails, the risks, and how much commitment is required.
“No question was off the table. Any question you had they would answer,” Hosford said.
Graduate Robin Brown survived the Las Vegas shooting in 2017. She took part in the academy to become more informed and to overcome her fears.
“I feel stronger having put myself in scenarios, like the active shooter training and crisis de-escalation, putting myself through that allowed me to heal myself again,” Brown said.
The Citizen’s Academy gives community members an inside look into the department and allows them to interact with law enforcement officers.
The Citizen’s Academy is free and lasts for 8 to 10 weeks with one meeting every week. The academy includes lectures, and hands-on training with firearms, active shooter response, building searches, K9 operations, SWAT operations, the use of force, and a tour of the main jail.
“They get as close as you can get without being sworn personnel going into a scene,” said Deputy Dave Valadez.
One of the most important aspects fostered by the academy is the communication between officers and the community.
“I think the more people that understand law enforcement and some of the challenges we face, the better it is for all of us,” Sheriff Bill Brown said.
To learn more about the Citizen’s Academy, click here.