A police officer might have not even have a second to decide whether to use some sort of force -- a Taser, a gun or a pepper spray being among the options -- when confronted by a suspect.

Or the officer might take hours to investigate a crime scene.

People who are selected for the Park City Police Department's Citizen Academy will learn about numerous topics critical to police work. It is an annual program that provides the opportunity for someone to delve into Police Department issues, procedures and policies.

Terry Knechtel, a police officer who is the organizer of the Citizen Academy, said people who have completed the free program did so with a better understanding of the Police Department.

"Maybe they have questions on the job as to why we do things and how we do things," Knechtel said about people who might be interested in participating.

The Citizen Academy starts on May 1 and ends on July 17. It meets on Wednesday nights from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. at the Park Avenue police station. Knechtel said he prefers to have up to 15 people in the class. One Saturday session -- a visit to a shooting range -- is scheduled. The class will have the opportunity to fire police guns during visit to the range.

Some of the topics that are scheduled to be covered, according to a schedule provided by the Police Department, include:

  • traffic laws and traffic stops

  • drug investigations, including a demonstration with a police dog

  • gangs and graffiti

  • crime scene investigations

  • jail bookings

  • use of force

    Other topics include the court system and the role of other emergency responders like firefighters and medical crews.


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    A roster of law enforcement officers and emergency responders will address the Citizen Academy, including other Park City officers, deputies from the Summit County Sheriff's Office and representatives of the Park City Fire District. Knechtel said City Hall's prosecutor is also scheduled to speak to the class.

    Knechtel said some of the people who have completed the Citizen Academy have later served on the Police Complaint Review Committee, which is an appeals panel in cases brought against officers or police policies. Others have served on the Offender Review Board, a group involved with people on probation or on parole and who are living locally.

    People selected for the Citizen Academy must be a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years old and live in Park City or Summit County. They cannot have a criminal record more serious than minor traffic offenses and must submit to a background check. They must sign a waiver agreement. They cannot miss more than two sessions.

    Applications are available at the police station or online. They must be turned in at the police station.

    For more information, contact Knechtel through police dispatch at 615-5500 or at tknechtel@parkcity.org . More information and applications are available on the Police Department's section of the City Hall website, www.parkcity.org . The direct link to the Citizen Police Academy is: http://www.parkcity.org/index.aspx?page=159 .