NEWTON, Iowa -- For decades the Newton Police Department has provided citizens with a police academy to learn the basics of what it takes to keep a community safe, but this year they are completely rebranding the course. The new program is called Citizens Public Safety Academy and it's no longer just with police but the fire department as well.
“We show them what a day is like in the fire department. A lot of times people think that firefighters just sit around and don't do anything during the day, but they actually have a lot of responsibilities outside just handling regular calls,” Chief Jarrod Wellik for the Newton Fire Department said. “So this gives them an opportunity to see what happens at the station on a regular day and we talk about fire, EMS, HAZMAT, technical rescue, all the things the fire department is responsible for.”
The two departments already work out of the same building and oftentimes respond to calls together, and decided it was worth doing the academy together as well. It's a 10-week program starting on Sept. 24th meeting once a week for a few hours at night.
This year they say the course is much more hands-on learning. With the fire department, they will have a burn demonstration, among other activities. And police will demonstrate anything from traffic stops to defensive tactics with non-lethal weapons.
“What we are really trying to do is build that relationship between us and the community so that when they see something happen in the community or see something in the news that they have a greater understanding of what's actually going on,” Newton Police Chief Rob Burdess said. “That allows for less frustration and better understanding of what may be happening in that process or investigation. They can [also] really be a voice, or a supporter, of us in the community and be that voice of reason.”
September 3rd is the deadline to apply to the academy. Anyone 16 years or older can apply. Those younger than 18-years-old need a parental/guardian waiver signed. It is free of charge
While it isn't any official training course, Chief Burdess says he's hired at least three people after attending their academy.