Residents get justice education at Citizens Police Academy

Published 12:05 am Monday, January 20, 2014

NATCHEZ — The Natchez Police Department is hoping to arm local residents with a weapon police say can prevent them from becoming a victim of crime — knowledge.

NPD is now enrolling residents in its Citizens Police Academy designed to teach them about the local justice system and equip them with crime-prevention knowledge, Detective Jerry Ford said.

Residents will be taken through the processes of the local justice system, from the time an offender is arrested and booked into jail to their trial.

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The six-week academy will offer insights into the various departments within NPD, municipal court procedures, the district attorney’s role in prosecution and includes a ride-along with a patrol officer at the end of the academy.

In light of this month’s Beaumont Street fatal shooting and a rash of vehicle burglaries last month, Ford said NPD has been fielding questions from residents about what they can do to prevent crime in their neighborhoods and not become victims.

“We know there’s been … a lot of questions of what (residents) can do to protect themselves and their neighborhood, so we’re asking (residents) to please … utilize this program,” Ford said. “It’s there for the public to help them.”

The academy, Ford said, will teach residents about suspicious activity of which to be aware and how they can utilize the Crime Stoppers system that allows residents to phone in tips, remain anonymous and receive cash rewards for helping police.

NPD Director of Records and Co-Coordinator of Crime Stoppers and Neighborhood Watch Catherine Latham said residents should come away from the academy with an understanding of how all the wheels of the justice system work together.

“It’s a breakdown of the entire system, and it’s a good overview of it all for people who want to become more aware of how it all works,” she said.

The academy is sponsored by Crime Stoppers and the local Neighborhood Watch program and is free to Adams County residents who are at least 18. The academy starts Feb. 10 and will meet from 6 until 9 p.m. for seven weeks each Monday. The seventh week meeting will be a graduation ceremony.

Residents must complete an application for the academy and pass a basic background check.

Applications can be picked up from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at the records division inside NPD at 233 D’Evereux Drive. The deadline to apply is Feb. 3.