Go behind scenes in Citizens’ Academy

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By Ted Mink

Have you ever wondered how an investigation really unfolds? How forensics experts analyze a crime scene?  How an officer identifies a drunken driver?

The 11-week Citizens’ Academy is a free program offered by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office to county residents. It is your behind-the-scenes tour through virtually every aspect of our criminal justice system. Participants learn in a classroom setting one night per week, with plenty of interactive activities throughout.

Following are some of the many class topics.

Crime scene investigations

How does a criminal investigation unfold? Homicide detectives will walk through the steps of investigating a major crime. The crime lab will open its doors, and forensics specialists will explain “CSI” techniques like fingerprinting, blood-spatter analysis, DNA analysis and drug identification.

Jail operations

The Jefferson County Jail can hold as many as 1,400 inmates at once. Supervisors will take the class on a tour of the jail and discuss how to maintain security while still accommodating day-to-day necessities. For example, how do you feed 1,400 people three times a day?  How, and why, does the jail offer recreation and education for inmates?

Animal control

Animal control officers are much more than dogcatchers. They provide animal-related education to children in Jeffco schools, they investigate animal cruelty, and they help resolve neighbor complaints.  

SWAT, K-9, bomb squad

Deputies from these special units will share some insight into the high-risk incidents they’ve faced and the training they undergo. Deputies will display some of the “tools of the trade,” including a bomb-searching robot, special weapons and, of course, man’s best friend.

DUI and traffic enforcement

How does a deputy identify a drunken driver? How does he or she conduct a roadside sobriety test? Deputies from our traffic unit will talk about their challenges and successes in the effort to reduce accidents.

Victim services

What rights does a victim have throughout the criminal justice process? Victim advocates go to many crime scenes to provide comfort and share counseling and other referrals with victims.

Firearms, driving and building searches

Certified instructors will detail the skills required of a peace officer. Participants will have the opportunity to test their own skills in a controlled and safe setting, with guidance from instructors.

Other class topics will include ethics, 911 dispatch, use of force, community-oriented government, the criminal justice process, patrol operations and building searches.

The Sheriff’s Office is now accepting applications for the next academy, which begins March 25. Participation in the academy requires a commitment on Wednesdays from 6 to 9 p.m., for 11 weeks. Space is limited, and participants must be 21 or older. There is no fee for the academy.

Once an academy is full, applicants will be placed on an eligibility list for the next academy. Citizens’ Academies are held approximately every six months.

To learn more and to download an application, visit our www.jeffcosheriff.org. If you have questions, call Deputy Jim Shires at 303-271-5601.