Esky Public Safety offers citizens academy

ESCANABA — Residents interested in learning more about police and fire operations, as well as Delta County Central Dispatch, can register for the Escanaba Public Safety Department’s annual citizens academy.

Lt. John Gudwer of EPSD said this year is the third ever citizens academy.

“It started a couple years ago. Director (Robert) LaMarche asked to start one, to start a citizens academy and fortunately he asked me to get it going,” he said.

He added when it first started out, he had some concerns about the turnout. Gudwer said after the classes, participants provided feedback through anonymous surveys and overall the academy has been very well received.

The citizens academy allows everyday people to hear and see personally how police matters are handled so they can better understand how police work is properly completed.

“Just another way to be closer to the community, the people we serve, and let them get to know us and what we’re doing so they understand what we’re doing and why we’re doing it,” Gudwer said.

He added it also creates better communication between citizens and police.

“It’s a great program. I’m proud that our department does it. And I think that it’s a great bridge — another way to be closer to the community and have them learn and understand what we’re doing,” Gudwer said.

The 2019 citizens academy is held every Tuesday starting Sept. 3 and ending Oct. 22. The classes run from 6 to 8:30 p.m.

Gudwer explained seven out of the eight classes will be hosted at the EPSD building, however, one of the classes will take place at the Delta County Courthouse in the circuit courtroom.

The academy is a free eight-week informational and interactive program with all of the activities being completely voluntary.

“Everything with the citizens academy is volunteer,” Gudwer said. “You don’t pay to come to this, it’s free. It’s relaxed, it’s informal, it’s educational. You’re not being trained to be a police officer, but you’re going to find out the ins and outs and be much more informed on why officers and firefighters are doing what they’re doing.”

Gudwer explained each week has an overall theme to what the participants will be learning about.

The first week is an introduction to the citizens academy itself and the Escanaba Public Safety Department, including grants and programs through the department.

Gudwer said the rest of the weeks are dedicated to Delta County Central Dispatch, drugs and the K-9 unit, use of force, court system, detective bureau, fire and extraction, and graduation of the academy.

He explained through the various classes, participants have opportunities to get behind the scene looks on different aspects of local law enforcement.

People interested in attending the academy must fill out an application by either stopping by the EPSD building or by contacting Gudwer. People can reach Gudwer through the department’s number 906-786-5911 or his email at jgudwer@escanaba.org.

Criminal history checks are run on applicants, so they cannot have been convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanor.

Applications are due Aug. 31.

Gudwer said there is limited space in the academy, so interested citizens should apply as soon as possible.