Fourth Citizen’s Police Academy concludes

By Martin Couch

On Tuesday night, 25 Bryant citizens graduated from the fourth annual Citizen's Police Academy that is put on annually by the Bryant Police Department and Chief Tony Coffman.

"It is to bring the citizens into a class setting to give them a better understanding of the day-to-day operations of a police department,” Coffman explained. “As I have said since I have taken over, I am very community oriented in keeping people informed on everything and this is another way of doing it. There's no better way, in my opinion, than to educate them on what we are doing through classes, to get a better understanding of what we do."[more]

Sgt. Jenysen Payte instructed the class of 25 through the training exercises and factual courses.

"We went to the neighborhood watch parties to get them to take a look inside," Payte said. "This is the first year we asked the neighborhood watches and it was put together so we actually went to them first before anybody else to get some of them in. Next year, when we come back they will put the word out to the others and get more here."

Sam O'Bryant was one of the graduating class members who received a special certificate upon successful completion of the course.

"You got a chance to see how the police are selected as far as the interview process, qualifications and things of that sort," O'Bryant said. "The thing I liked the most about it was how the police department came into its own as the city grew."

Another class featured the students riding in squad cars and going on actual calls with on-duty police officers.

"There was a lot of adrenaline pumping," O'Bryant said. "We got a minute crash-course before we went to do the police stop. It was five basic principles and then go. We had to do it from there."

The students wore body armor and carried actual equipment on the calls.

"It kind of let you know what they deal with physically when they go through all those exercises," O'Bryant said. "I can't put myself in it mentally, because I don't do that, but the weight of the equipment and having to think going down this hallway or around this corner, I respect them a lot for what they do. It was a real eye-opener."

Along with O'Bryant, the graduating class consisted of Becky Vilcher, Julie Coffman, Crystal Ramsey, Reagan Miller (sharpshooter), Lacey Miller, Shea Meeler, Lindy Hamilton, Jarryd Fleming, Bobby Graves, Aieleen Calloway, Teresa Morgan, Gail Branham, Danny Moore, Stacy Harding, Kristin Pickett, Ronnie Courtney, Hanna Theatt, Greg Wallace, April Scott, Anna Wooten, Bryan Smith, Amanda House and Melina Bull.

After the hour-long ceremony where each student got a certificate, O'Bryant said he would recommend the academy to other Bryant residents.

"Yes I would, one for just the experience and then the other part for the information about it," he said. "A lot of people think that Bryant police have it easy because it's a nice community. They are still police officers and they have training to stay up to date on crimes and trends in crimes."

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