Community Police Academy

Plans were announced Tuesday to revise the Citizens Police Academy in Meridian. The initiative started last February. The primary sponsor for the class was the Meridian Police Department. Costing $100 to register, 20 students filled the ten week class.

Mayor Cheri Barry and Acting Police Chief James Sharpe held a news conference Thursday to announce some changes to the initiative. Both say they want to build on the program's success by making it accessible to more people.

"At this time we are going to shorten it to one night so that more people can attend, and at a later time we can go back to the Community Policing Project, but right now we want as many people as possible involved," says Mayor Barry.

The two hour course will cover four main areas: which include the Meridian Police Department's Patrol Division, Criminal Investigation Division, the procedures used for juvenile cases and details about the department's administration and reserve unit.

'We're going to basically tell them or give them examples of day-to-day cases that we deal with," says Acting Police Chief James Sharpe. "We deal with a lot of elements and we have to basically investigate everything that comes in and a lot of the things that we have to investigate and spend manpower and hours on are things that turn out not to be necessarily the way that it was reported to us."

City officials say the purpose for this revised Citizens Police Academy is to build a stronger bridge between the police department and the community. Ultimately, they say the goal is to increase the number of people who call in crimes, and the number of those who call the Crimestoppers line with crime solving tips.

"We have a Crimestoppers line, but it's not utilized as well as it should be, and I think that the establishment of a better trust base will help that," says Sharpe.

The Community Police Academy will be held Tuesday, April 23 at Union Station from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. It will be free and open to the public. Based on demand, Mayor Barry says similar sessions will be held as needed in the future.