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The City Journals

Community members graduate from Citizens Academy

May 30, 2017 04:51PM ● By Cassie Goff

Congratulations, graduates of the 2017 Cottonwood Heights Citizens Police Academy! (Cassie Goff/City Journals)

By: Cassie Goff   [email protected]
After weeks of work, graduates of the Cottonwood Heights Citizens Police Academy received their diploma on April 26.
 “Congratulations to the 2017 Citizen’s Academy graduates! We hope you had as much fun as we did,” said a statement from the Cottonwood Heights Police Department.
The graduation ceremony began with newly appointed Sergeant Chris McHugh addressing the audience of graduates and their guests.
“Thank you for coming, participating and attending,” he said. “We have really enjoyed coming to teach you.” He asked for the graduates to relay any recommendations or feedback so they can improve the program for next year.
McHugh then invited Police Chief Robby Russo to the podium to address the graduates.
“We hope you had a great time,” he said. “The fabric of any police department is held together by the support of the community. We hope you become ambassadors within our community.”
He was followed by Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore, who shared a few words. He said that the Cottonwood Heights Police Department (CHPD) “is one of the city’s cherished accomplishments.”
Many years ago, Cottonwood Heights created their own police department, instead of having to contract out with the sheriff’s department. With this move, the CHPD was able to “bring a level of protection and security to the city which we didn’t think could be achieved,” said Cullimore.
Cullimore expressed his gratitude for the CHPD officers by commenting on how hard it is to be an officer.
“Police officers have a difficult job. They handle the ugliest of situations and they get disrespected for it,” Cullimore said.
“I grew up in a small town in Oklahoma with two or three officers. Everyone knew who they were.” Cullimore said. “That’s the kind of small-town community policing we aim for here. The officers want to be seen and make a difference.”
He then addressed the graduates more directly; now that they had been through the program, they could help in this initiative.
“Share your experiences here with as many people as you can,” he said.
McHugh reclaimed the podium to call the graduates forward by name, one by one, to retrieve their diploma and shake hands with Cullimore, Russo and Assistant Paul Chief Brenneman.
This is the second year the Cottonwood Heights Citizens Police Academy has been available. The program ran for 10 weeks, from Feb. 22 to April 26. Meeting times were held once a week, every Wednesday from 6:30 to 9 p.m. The program was not taught by one instructor, but by many of the CHPD officers. Classes were made up of a combination of lecture and labs, along with various field trips.
Major learning outcomes for the program included understanding how police officers do their jobs, the role community plays within police work, the modern challenges of a police officer and why many local police officers continue along the career path.
Course topics all related to daily tasks of an officer, including but not limited to procedures and operations, gun safety and use of deadly force, K-9 and SWAT units, criminal investigations, how to handle difficult situations, evidence collection, domestic violence, the legal system, fingerprinting, gangs, narcotics and fingerprinting.
Both years, the feedback from instructors and students was extremely positive. The instructors really enjoyed teaching the students, and the students really enjoyed learning about law enforcement. Some students even said the classes were the highlight of their weeks.
The CHPD plans to host another Citizens Police Academy in January of next year. For more information, check out their Facebook page, city website or visit city hall