Citizens see police work up close

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 2, 2003

Connie Wiltbank was just taking part in a ride-along with police as part of the citizen’s police academy. She didn’t expect to end up at the scene of a shooting.

Wiltbank &045;&045; a graduate of the academy’s inaugural class &045;&045; was riding with Selma Police Department Officer Tory Neely April 11 when a call alerting officers to a shooting at Selma Middle CHAT Academy occurred. Upon arrival at the scene Wiltbank was instructed to stay at the gymnasium’s door and ensure no one entered before evidence technicians had arrived.

Pulling away the stereotypes that often surround police officers was one reason the academy was started, according to Police Chief Robert Green. Green &045;&045; who awarded graduates of the academy with certificates at a ceremony Monday night &045;&045; gave a brief overview of the program.

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During the course of the program participants of the citizen’s police academy were introduced to officers, heard from evidence technicians, learned about both civil and criminal law and

discussed necessary force when making an arrest, among other points.

Green also discussed what the department looks for when hiring an officer. Necessary traits included high character, ethics and scruples.

Warren Hinson, public information officer with the police, said many of the citizen’s programs the department sponsors were Green’s creation.

Lt. David Evans lauded the graduates for their efforts, and also asked a favor of them &045;&045; to promote the program.

Connie Wiltbank for one plans to do just that.

Wiltbank &045;&045; who works with SABRE Sanctuary &045;&045; said she got involved in the academy for a better understanding of the police department since she appears in municipal court every week. The academy has not only given her that understanding, but has also provided her a new respect for police officers.

And when the academy starts up again &045;&045; which it inevitably will &045;&045; Wiltbank hopes to be there.

The graduates of the citizen’s police academy include:

Bob Hubert, Kevin Johnson, Khadijah Ishaq, Derrick Ruffin, John F. Harper, Connie Wiltbank, Heather McIntyre, Rodney Nettles, Judi Porter, David White and Beverly Huffman.