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Citizen academy will offer insight to police work

Most people recognize that all those cop shows on television aren't realistic. But few have anything else to go off of when it comes to understanding what police actually do.

That's a problem, says Rosemount Police Chief Eric Werner.

"Those shows create misunderstandings," Werner said.

That's one reason he feels it is important as a department to offer a citizens academy. The opportunity fosters understanding of what actual police officers do on a day-to-day basis and dispels some television myths.

The Rosemount Police Department will host its 2013 citizens academy

from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. weekly from April 1 through May 13.

Community resources officer Beth Richtsmeier, who leads the program, said this year's academy will cover a number of topics including an overview of the department's operations, a tour of the police station, an experience with patrol operations, understanding of driving under the influence arrests, a narcotics presentation, crime scene processing, MAAG and firearms, use of force/self defense, investigations and crime prevention.

Over the six-week course, residents will have hands-on opportunities to learn what officers face daily. This year the academy will include access to a shooting simulator, use of force demonstrations and an up-close look at some of the technology used by the MAAG team, Dakota County's cooperative SWAT team.

Residents who complete the academy will have the opportunity to ride along for part of a shift with an officer.

While the academy will provide the public education, Richtsmeier said it also helps the department establish good relationships with residents. Through the course, residents will meet a number of officers and have the opportunity to ask questions.

Having that opportunity to have a positive interaction with officers is valuable, said Werner. He added that most residents won't have contact with police unless something unfortunate has happened. Through the academy, residents get to know the officers as people.

The academy is also one of the biggest recruitment tools for the department's reserve program. The police reserves assist Rosemount's officers. Their responsibilities include traffic control, event security, park patrol and city ordinance enforcement.

Overall, Werner said, there are many benefits to running the program and he encouraged residents to sign up.

Participation is free. Residents must be at least 18 years old and are subject to criminal background checks. So far the class is about half full.

Interested residents can call Richtsmeier at 651-322-2012 or email Applications are available in the lobby of Rosemount Police Department or online at

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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