by KIM HILSENBECK
Sixteen area residents who signed up for the Kyle Citizens’ Police Academy have graduated after a nine-week course on the ins and outs of the Kyle Police Department.
Police Chief Jeff Barnett presented the graduation certificates at the May 1 Kyle City Council meeting, thanking the participants for their time and dedication.
What is a Citizens’ Police Academy?
Kyle Police Capt. Pedro Hernandez Jr. said he thinks of the academy as a way to share more about what happens to officers every day with the public.
“If they see the challenges firsthand, they are more likely to understand why we make certain decisions and why we use certain tactics,” Hernandez said.
Citizens’ Police Academy participants learned about a wide range of topics according to Barnett: record keeping, traffic control, crime scene investigation, animal control and neighborhood community watch groups. They also covered mental health techniques, use of force, special operations and working with partner agencies such as the Hays County Sheriff’s Office and Texas Department of Public Safety.
Hays County Justice of the Peace Precinct 2 Beth Smith talked to the class about the Shattered Dreams program. Each cadet went on a ride out with a Kyle police officer, and one of the final classes was to spend time with officers at a local gun range.
Many Kyle police officers donated their time to give presentations and training sessions to the class. The academy leaders were Det. James Plant and Sgt. Tracy Vrana.
Barnett told council members the cadets learned more about how the Kyle Police Department responds to calls, the tactics used, and the limitations and challenges they face.
The police chief said he would like to see more of these training programs for residents.
“I think it gives everyday citizens a chance to see what we’re all about,” said Barnett, “in a real up close way that not everyone gets to experience.”
And those graduates can sing the praises of the department, Barnett believes, for years to come.