The Albany Police Department's Citizens Academy graduate Phyllis "Liz" Meilton, left, gets a little help securing her Citizens Academy pin to her collar by friend and fellow graduate Steve Kender during Tuesday night's graduation ceremony at the Albany Law Enforcement Center.
ALBANY, Ga. — Standing out in their navy-blue polo shirts with gold insignia, 16 graduates of the 26th annual Albany Police Department Citizens Police Academy collected their certificates Tuesday.
“What I like to do is share with you what your police department is doing,” said police Chief John Proctor during commencement at the downtown Law Enforcement Center. “I hope that after you have been a part of the academy, you’ll have a better understanding of what we do.”
Graduates said they not only have a better understanding of the dangers and complexity of police work, but their respect for police has deepened.
“I have a new perspective on what they do for a living,” said graduate Tamaria LeRoy. “I have a new and profound respect for them as men and women.”
A former Maine resident who settled in Albany by way of Florida, Phyllis “Liz” Meilton was a hit with her classmates and police officials. As she picked up her certificate there were cries of “You go, Liz.”
“I did this 10 years ago in Florida. Everything is new,” Meilton said. “I did the daytime ride-along this time. I’m ready to go back and do a nighttime one. The officers are so nice and dedicated.”
Participants in the program learn about investigation techniques, gang awareness, including signs and clothes, 911 communications and how to properly handle and fire a gun.
According to the academy’s page on the city’s website, albany.ga.us, there are three objectives for the sessions.
“First, they will provide an understanding of the functions of the police department and how the department interacts within the Criminal Justice System,” the website states. “Secondly, citizens will learn how the Albany Police Department responds to the needs of the community through Community Oriented Policing. Finally, citizens will have ‘hands-on’ training in areas that the police department utilizes in solving crimes.”
According to many graduates, the serious classes are also fun. Many have said the highlights of the program are experiencing the use of force through the firearms simulator and riding along with an officer in a patrol car.
For more information on the next academy session in the fall, call academy coordinator Phyllis Banks at (229) 483-6298 during regular business hours.