Park City police offer inside look at agency, no guns or badges required |

Park City police offer inside look at agency, no guns or badges required

Park City Police Officer Terry Knechtel feigns screams and throws his arms about as Diesel, a 26-month-old Belgian Malinois K-9 unit dog, bites him as part of a drill during the citizen's academy at the Park City Police Department in 2017. The demonstration, conducted by US Forest Service's Darren Schiedel, right, showed how the K-9 unit assists officers in taking down uncooperative suspects.
Park Record file photo

The Park City Police Department offers an inside look at the agency’s operations each year.

And a badge and gun are not required.

The Police Department organizes the annual Citizen Academy, providing the participants an opportunity to learn about a broad range of law enforcement topics. It is designed for civilians who want to learn about the Police Department. People with a variety of backgrounds usually comprise a Citizen Academclass.

The program runs from May 2 until July 5 with weekly sessions, usually on Wednesdays from 6 p.m. until approximately 9 p.m. at the Park Avenue police station. An all-day Saturday session will also be scheduled centered on the use of force continuum, including a visit to a shooting range for a weapons demonstration. The date of the all-day session has not been finalized.

“Clear up any misunderstandings, I believe, and any type of stereotypes they have of law enforcement,” said police officer Terry Knechtel, who leads the Citizen Academy, about a goal of the program.

One misconception, he said, is that police officers in Park City “don’t do anything.” Knechtel said another misconception centers on the police response to what would appear to a passing driver to be a typical traffic stop. Traffic patrols are a critical duty of a Park City officer and in many cases at least two police vehicles are seen at the scene when a driver is pulled over.

Two or three officers may respond, he said, describing that the multiple officers are needed to ensure the traffic stop is completed smoothly.

“First off, to get control of the scene and make things safe,” Knechtel said, adding, “the public may get the misconception it’s overkill.”

Some of the topics the Citizen Academy is scheduled to cover include the operations of the dispatch center, investigating crime scenes, the frequently related topics of graffiti and gangs, K-9 officers and SWAT operations. The program also will delve into wider issues like the corrections system, emergency planning and the courts. Additionally, the program will provide information about the work of the Park City Fire District and the area’s emergency medical services.

The program usually taps local agencies like the Police Department itself and the Summit County Sheriff’s Office as it schedules speakers for the sessions. The Citizen Academy members can expect to listen to law enforcement leadership as well as officers with expertise in individual subjects or tactics. A Citizen Academy flier indicates some topics will be covered in classroom sessions while “others will be interactive with practical scenarios for the students.”

Up to 15 people are admitted to the program each year. Eligibility requirements for the Citizen Academy include U.S. citizenship and being at least 18 years old and a resident of Park City or surrounding Summit County. Participants may not have a criminal record more serious than minor violations of traffic laws and they must agree to a background check. The participants may miss a maximum of two sessions and still complete the program. It is a free program.

The Citizen Academy application inquires about someone’s arrest record, asking for a description of the circumstances if someone has been taken into custody. The application also says the person will be rejected if they provide false information on the form.

Applications are available on the Police Department’s section of the City Hall website, Select ‘Citizen Police Academy’ from the department’s front page. More information is available by calling Knechtel at 615-5500. The application deadline is April 25.

Applications may be returned in person to the police station or mailed to:

Park City Police Department

c/o Officer Terry Knechtel

P.O. Box 1480

Park City, UT


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