The Miami Police Department is looking for citizens who would like to participate in the Miami Citizen's Academy. Chief of Police George Haralson said Captain Troy Fugate is developing the curriculum and directing the program.

The projected start up date for the academy is mid October and will include eight two-hour sessions concluding with a graduation date of Nov. 30.

Chief Haralson said, "The purpose of the Academy is to enhance community awareness. I embrace strongly the concept of community based policing, always have." "I'm convinced that we need to have the community involved with us for us to be successful and efficient in our job. So having the citizen's academy allows the citizens who go through the academy to have a better idea of how we're structured and the obstacles we face." "We also kind of want to dispel the myth they get by watching television," Haralson said.

Captain Fugate said it has been five or six years since a citizen police academy has been held in Miami. "This one's going to be a little different. In the past it was kind of just a classroom setting. The participants would sit at a desk and we would provide them information.

In this one I want them to get more of a hands on feeling of what it's like to be a police officer," Fugate

said. "By that I mean we are going to have participants riding along with officers. We will be taking them to the firing range and give them the opportunity to actually shoot.We'll have some role playing on domestic abuse."

Fugate said he is still trying to arrange for the possibility of a simulated video experience where participants can experience realistic type situations faced by police.

"The entire thing is going to be a hands on approach, so when they leave this academy they're going to

have a feeling of what we're confronted with on a day to day basis. Rather than just putting out the information and trying to get them to absorb it, my idea on this one is to let them experience it from dispatch to custody control he said There will be a variety of instructors teaching the sessions from the patrol, support and detective divisions according to Fugate. Fugate said, "You know we can sit here and talk all day long about what it's like to be a police officer but until you actually experience it and feel a little bit of that stress, and feel the possible confrontation through some of the role playing, it's hard to understand. It's better to me than just trying to explain

it. You know this is a difficult job and I want them to understand why we do what we do," Fugate said. Fugate said that if the participants can get a better understanding of what it's like to be a police officer it can also lead to more community support.

Chief Haralson said it will allow the participating citizens to understand the difficulties and daily issues the officers face. Haralson said the Tulsa County Sheriff's Department implemented a similar program during his service there. He said, "We recognized quickly the value of having it. It increases goodwill."

The more interactive the program is Haralson said it helps to make the program more interesting for the participants. "This is going to be an overview of what it's like to be in the Miami PoliceDepartment. More importantly the department belongs to the citizens, and we have been looking for an

opportunity to open our police department for citizen input. We want them to be part of it," Haralson said. There will be a limited seating for the first citizens academy, around ten to twelve participants will be chosen. The MPD plans to

continue the academy on a yearly basis.

Chief Haralson encouraged anyone interested to complete an application to be considered for this first academy and if not accepted this year to please reapply again next year. If anyone is interested in being a participant in the

citizen's academy they can contact Captain Fugate by calling 918)541-2306 or e-mailing him at tfugate@miamiokla.net to sign up and complete an application and preliminary background check.

Captain Fugate also encourages participants and the public to come to NEO from 2-4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6, in the Blue and Gold of the Bruce Carter Student Union on the NEO campus for a "Public Policy Forum on Meth Use In Oklahoma."

The forum is free and open to the public.