The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office is launching a citizens’ academy to give residents an inside look into law enforcement.
Sheriff Steve Pelton said during the 12-week program students will meet weekly to cover a variety of topics providing awareness of the sheriff’s office functions.
The volunteers class will cover sheriff office procedures and the law in general.
“We want people to have a good grasp of what we do, and to see that working in a partnership we can help reduce crime,” he said. “The partnership goes hand in hand with a transparent understanding of the office.”
Pelton explained the Citizens’ Law Enforcement Academy of Franklin County “encourages the best atmosphere to problem solving” between deputies and community members.
“Transparency, communication and understanding between deputies and residents are prioritized through education and collaboration,” he added. “This mutual effort will assist deputies and citizens as they address the concerns of the community they live and serve in. We are stronger together.”
The class will meet at the sheriff’s department. The 2019 class is full but Pelton said he expects classes annually for years to come.
Participants must be 18 years old, and live, work or own property in Franklin County.
They cannot be a convicted felon or have a lengthy violent criminal history.
Students who come under criminal investigation should remove themselves from the program until the investigation is concluded, Pelton added.
The sheriff’s academy is not a physically demanding program. Adults all ages are encouraged to apply. To apply people can contact the sheriff’s office at 636-582-2560.
Pelton reached out to neighborhood watch leaders in the county to sit in on the inaugural class.
He said that gives an opportunity for the message to be shared with more captive audiences.
Pelton said he will encourage those participants to share what they learn with neighbors, friends and families.
“That’s why we included the neighborhood watch groups,” he said. “We hope they report back to the group so the vital information will be going to 40, 50 or 60 more people.”
There are about six active neighborhood watch groups in Franklin County.
A primary goal during Pelton’s campaign for office in 2017 was community outreach.
“I discussed strong community and police relationships during my campaign,” Pelton said. “We are stronger when we stand together.”
The academy won’t produce commissioned officers, but it will strengthen bonds between his office and participants.
“Knowledge is power and this will give a general understanding of what we do,” he explained. “We are very excited. We think this will be good for citizens and for the department.”