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Get an up-close look of what it takes to be a police officer at BRPD's Citizens' Academy program | 7 a.m.

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BATON ROUGE - Police are offering citizens a chance to get behind the badge and experience life on the line. The eight-week Citizens' Academy will give everyday people an up-close look at what it takes to be a police officer in Baton Rouge.

People who attend the class will learn police ethics training, how the 911 dispatch center works, go through "Shoot/Don't Shoot" scenarios, investigations, and go through a gun range tour.

Pearlina Thomas attended the Citizens' Academy in 2022 and says the program was very beneficial in learning what goes on behind the scenes in becoming a police officer.

"The training that BRPD officers go through is very extensive," Thomas said. "Anything to do with simulation, the 'Shoot/Don't Shoot' drills, and breaking down specific cases was really interesting."

This academy helps give a better understanding of each unit within law enforcement.

"They are ambassadors for law enforcement as a whole," said BRPD Sgt. L'jean McKneely. "We have DEA that comes, the DA comes and shares all the things that they do. We always reach out to other agencies so that they can come in and give us information as to what they do. It's very important that the community stays involved. If they have the information, they can empower themselves to be forthcoming in the community to make a difference."

Aside from the gun range tour, they also teach gun safety with hands-on experience.

"It's a day in the life of a police officer," said firearms instructor Lt. Leonard Harry. "We make split-second decisions. We don't have the time to sit back and analyze what we're going to do, we have to make that decision then and there. That's why we have scenario-based training."

The class starts April 4 at 6 p.m. and you can apply here.

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