They come from every walk of life — men and women, teachers and students, those who have served in the military and civilians.

They are housewives and professionals, doctors and patients.

Some come eagerly, some come reluctantly, most are not entirely aware of what lies ahead.

But for three months, all come together to walk a mile in the shoes worn by those whose duty it is to protect and to serve — the men and women of the Claremore Police Department.

For just under a month, the third annual Citizen’s Police Academy has been giving regular citizens a unique glimpse into the real lives and workings of police officers at the Claremore Police Department.

Meeting weekly at the Claremore Community Center, the Citizen’s Police Academy offers classroom and practical exercises over a 12-week period, with instruction coming from veteran law enforcement officers and legal experts.

“I had read about it (the academy) in the newspaper, and thought it would be interesting experience,” said Claremore resident Amy Weaver. “I thought it would give me the chance to learn more about what it’s like ‘behind the scenes’ in the life of a police officer.”

Weaver, a home health aid with Country Style Health Care, said as a “regular citizen,” she wasn’t sure what to expect from her peace officer/teachers, but she’s been impressed with their overall performance in the classroom.

“The teachers ... the officers have all been very interesting to listen to — they really know about the law,” she said. “I’ve known (Sergeant) Milburn (Litterell) for quite a while and he’s a great guy — a very good police man, and he’s been a very good instructor, as well.”

“I can honestly say I have been very impressed with the Citizen’s Police Academy so far,” said Lindel Stephens, academy cadet and Wal-Mart Supercenter manager. “The three-hour sessions seem to fly by due to the interesting content of the sessions.”

“The academy is an excellent opportunity for us (as police officers) to relate what we do to everyday citizens,” said Sgt. Litterell. “There are a lot of misconceptions about our jobs and about us — it’s very rewarding for us to be able to make a connection with people in a way that helps them to understand why we do our jobs in the way we do.”

For Assistant Police Chief Stan Brown, the academy is even more personal.

“I went through a time in my life a few years ago, following a personal loss, where I asked myself ‘What kind of mark am I going to leave on the world when I’m gone?’ I gave it a lot of consideration and decided to try and find a way to help regular citizens better understand what we, as police officers, go through — from that, the Citizen’s Police Academy was born.”

“I’ve been impressed with how the presenters have opened up to the group and ‘let down their guard’ to show they’re very dedicated and caring individuals,” Stephens said.

Instructors at the academy have included Brown and Chief Mickey Perry, as well as regular patrol officers, investigators, and an assistant district attorney.

Class subjects have covered everything from search and seizure, traffic investigations, use of force, and handling D.U.I. Future classes will include building search and traffic stops, establishing neighborhood watch programs, and practical class exercises.

“In a few weeks, we’ll be taking the cadets to the (gun) range for some practical lessons, and next month, we’ll teach them about how to make decisions on when to shoot and when not to shoot with the FATS (Firearm Training System),” Brown said. “Everyone always has a good time at that class.”

For another practical class exercise cadets will gear up and encounter a domestic violence situation, with police officers role-playing the couple.

“Those can get a little intense for some people — but it shows them some of what we encounter as part of our job,” Brown said.

“In the domestic violence exercises, the people involved are police and it’s a very controlled situation, so there’s not any danger, unlike a real situation like that, where you can’t be certain what will happen,” Brown said. “But those do help the cadets understand our jobs in a way that we could never teach from a classroom.”

Said Weaver, “I’m a little scared about the domestic violence exercise — I’m not sure what will happen. I’m sure it will be a real eye-opener, though.”

“I always respected law enforcement, but I now have a newfound respect for what they have to go through every day,” Stephens said.

“What most people walk away from the course from is an understanding of us (police officers) that would have been impossible to give them any other way,” Brown said. “They learn that all crimes aren’t solved in half an hour or an hour like they are on television, that a lot of what we do is pretty boring, and that we’re people just like they are — doing a job that we’ve been trained to do.”

The 2007 Citizen’s Police Academy will continue through Tuesday, May 8.

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