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Park City agency shows police work as it really is

Jay Hamburger THE PARK RECORD
The Park City Police Department s Citizens Academy includes a demonstration with a police dog. The Citizens Academy is an annual program that teaches someone about numerous issues related to police work. Terry Knechtel, a Park City police officer, donned a bite suit for a demonstration with Darren Schiedel from the United States Forest Service and his law enforcement dog. Courtesy of the Park City Police Department
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How does a police officer conduct a traffic stop once someone is pulled over?

And is investigating a crime scene really like what someone sees on television shows?

The Park City Police Department is preparing to select the next Citizens Academy, an annual program that provides civilians an overview of the duties of a police officer in the city. It will be the eighth year of the Citizens Academy. The Police Department selects up to 15 people.

"It clears up any kind of misconceptions that your police TV shows for entertainment value," said Terry Knechtel, a Park City officer who organizes the program. "It shows what we really do."

The Citizens Academy is scheduled to run from May 4 until July 6. Sessions run from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. on Wednesdays at the Park Avenue police station. There is also an eight-hour session on a Saturday to cover use-of-force issues. The syllabus has not been finalized.

The program will cover topics like the details of a traffic stop, crime-scene investigations, the criminal justice system in Utah and the frequently related topics of gangs and graffiti. The session about traffic stops will detail the reasoning behind more than one officer responding when someone is pulled over, Knechtel said.

Members of the Police Department will instruct many of the sessions. Knechtel said the Park City Fire District will also be involved. A canine handler from the U.S. Forest Service is scheduled to give a demonstration using what is known as a bite suit, an outfit designed to protect someone from dog bites that are often used during police-dog demonstrations.

Someone must be a U.S. citizen, a resident of Park City or Summit County and at least 18 years old to be selected for the Citizens Academy. They must submit to a background check and cannot have a criminal history beyond minor traffic violations. People who are selected commit to miss no more than two sessions.

Applications are available on the City Hall website, http://www.parkcity.org . Select the ‘Citizen Academy now accepting applications’ link on the front page of the website. Applications are also available at the police station. The deadline for applications is April 15. Applications are reviewed as they are submitted.

For more information, contact Knechtel through Police Department dispatchers at 615-5500.


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