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Welch: Learning what cops do
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With much respect for the contributions and sacrifices made by the military, there’s also another group of heroes who work daily to protect ourway of life. They pin on badges, strap on Glocks and climb into cars and SUVs with blue lights on top for a living. They are cops. Without our system of jurisprudence and those tasked with enforcing it, life would be vastly different for all of us.

Many times, we in the media tend to over critique and criticize these folks. Granted, those criticisms are sometimes warranted. Often, however, rushing to judgement can do more harm than good. Maybe if we knew a little more about what they do…

In that spirit, with the blessing and support of the management of The Covington News, starting today and for the next eight weeks, I will be reporting from the City of Porterdale Police Department’s (PPD) sixth Citizens Police Academy (CPA). The academy offers citizens an inside look at law enforcement operations and a chance to get hands-on experience in different facets of police work.

As a citizen, like all of my classmates, I have curiosity about policing and I want to learn. As a reporter, I will tell you what I’ve learned. Maybe we can all develop a greater appreciation for those who serve and protect us, and what they face daily.

Our first night was mostly a get acquainted session and for learning about the PPD. The backgrounds of my classmates range from a business owner to a truck driver to a couple of government employees and medical professionals. We have one elected official in the class, the spouse of a police officer and a retiree. And while we all share the same reason for being there- to learn about police work – our reasons for wanting to learn are as diverse as our make-up. One member wants to learn about what cops do so that he can talk to his children about the police as they grow up. Another is contemplating a career change as wants to know if law enforcement is the way to go.

The academy also seems to engender a spirit of serving in those that have completed it. On our first night, members of the CPAAA, the academy’s alumni association, were on hand to help with refreshments and setting up the classroom. They also gave us the opportunity to view t-shirts worn by previous classes. We decided on the black shirt with white lettering. It’s sharp.

We were welcomed by PPD Chief Jason Cripps, who explained that the purpose of the academy is to build a bridge between the police and the community. It was started four years ago by Porterdale’s former chief, Jeff Jacobs.

Chief Cripps also went over the agenda for the next eight weeks. Next class, we will learn about the duties of the coroner. We will also learn about narcotics and drug paraphernalia and the role of K-9 officers. In coming weeks, we will visit the 911 Communication Center, go to a firing range, conduct a criminal investigation and prosecute the offenders in a mock trial.  For our last class, we will learn about the use of force and then be placed in a controlled scenario which allows us to apply what we’ve learned. We will have the opportunity to see what cops go through as they make the life and death decisions that so many times do make the news.

It’s going to be an informative and interesting eight weeks. Stay tuned.

Darryl Welch is a community reporter for The Covington News. He can be contacted at either or 770-728-1438.