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Sixteen area residents have joined the 2013 Alexandria Citizens Police Academy. Pictured are (back row, left to right) Alexandria Police Chief Rick Wyffels, Tim Erickson, Randy Dertinger, Jeff Roste, Dale Erickson, Todd Jensen, William Schmitz, John Heydt, Captain Scott Kent, (middle row) Bradley Forbrook, Melissa Winter, Katie Carlson, Jenna Payne, Paul Hanson, (front row) Robyn Snyder, Karin Tank, Linda Christensen and Owen Miller. (Echo Press photo by Crystal Dey)

2013's bluecoat brigade: Alexandria Citizens Police Academy is in full force

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The Alexandria Police Department has boosted its busting power, or at least an awareness about it, once again. Sixteen curious citizens have been enrolled into the 2013 Citizens Police Academy.

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The newest crew in blue windbreakers started studies in February. Two had already completed their ride-along experiences by February 12.

"We had a nice variety of calls," said Alexandria City Councilman Todd Jensen. "There's a lot I didn't even realize was going on behind the scenes."

Jensen rode with Sergeant Kevin Guenther to a medical assist, a marijuana scent investigation, a shoplifting incident and as back-up to other officers conducting traffic stops. He said Mayor Sara Carlson, who was in the 2012 class, recommended the experience.

"As a city council member, it helps to know how I can best help the police department," Jensen said.

Over the course of seven weeks, academy cadets will get a glimpse into the inside operations of the Alexandria Police Department. During the first three weeks, students will tour the Alexandria Police Department, learn how the Constitution relates to the rights of citizens and the rights of police officers and hear first-hand accounts of drugs, gangs, crime scenes and evidence collection from Detective Jay Halverson and an undercover agent.

"The new building is pretty amazing," Jensen said. He was impressed with the level of technology, noting the squad tracking map that illuminates where officers are in the city and which are in pursuit.

Week four brings the academy into the Alexandria Technical and Community College (ATCC) law enforcement training facility for education on use of force, mock crime scene scenarios in the Hogan's Alley run and traffic stops. The garage turns into a mini-city, complete with a convenience store and apartment complex where students role-play as both officers and civilians.

The following week, cadets test their shooting skills virtually with the Range 2000 exercise and actually in the ATCC firing range. Students will experience shooting a Glock and an automatic Universal Machine Pistol.

Jensen said he is looking forward to the courtroom trial class at the Douglas County Courthouse, which occurs during week six. Judge David R. Battey is scheduled to hold court, presiding over fictitious trials. Students have the opportunity for a question-and-answer session with Battey and attorney Heidi Shultz following court.

Alexandria Police Chief Rick Wyffels, Captain Scott Kent, Sergeant Kevin Guenther, Sergeant Larry Dailey, Sergeant Chad Schroeder and Officer Jim Gripne led the academy classes.

The 2013 Citizens Police Academy culminates with a private graduation ceremony on March 19 before alumni are released into the streets of Alexandria with a keener eye and deeper respect for the men and women in law enforcement.

DeyCrystal Dey Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota's Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter at @CrystalDey_Echo.

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Crystal Dey

Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota’s Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter @Crystal_Dey.

(320) 763-1233
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