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News Community Citizens Academy graduates first class

Macon County Sheriff’s Department’s first Citizens Academy wrapped up the 10-week course with a dinner at Fat Buddies. Citizens Academy students and instructors heard remarks by former Judge James Downs, who was the guest speaker for the evening.Participants evaluate inaugural Sheriff’s Department course.

The Macon County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) wrapped up the first Citizens Academy recently with a graduation ceremony held at Fat Buddies.

During the 10-week course, citizens were afforded the opportunity to get up close and personal with various duties carried out by the sheriff’s office including community patrols, DUI enforcement, K9 demonstrations, and tactical SRT team scenarios. The educational program was intended to build a closer partnership with the local community and the sheriff's office.

“We wanted to give citizens an opportunity to learn more about the duties and responsibilities of their sheriff’s office and to give them first-hand knowledge of what our officers do on a daily basis,” said Macon County Sheriff Robbie Holland. “While I know we still have a lot of work to do, I am proud of the accomplishments of our agency and I always look forward to sharing them with our community.”

Funded primarily by donations received from members of the community and local businesses specifically designated for the Citizens Academy, the course is free and open to the public. With the success of the first course, the sheriff's office has the second academy slated for next spring.

“We are in the process of reviewing the evaluations submitted by those that attended the academy on the strengths and weaknesses of the course and after that is completed, my command staff and I will look at ways to improve the academy for future presentations,” Holland said. “Our goal is to have another academy in the spring of 2014 and we will begin accepting applications from our website in February 2014.”

“I saw this as a bridge between the department and citizens,” said MCSO lead investigator Charles Moody. “It was an opportunity for officers to share what they do.”

During the graduation ceremony, both Citizens Academy participants and instructors provided feedback about the course.

“I took the class to learn more about the sheriff's department,” said county commissioner Ronnie Beale. “I wanted to support our law enforcement. I was most impressed with the deputies who presented during the course and to learn all they do to serve the citizens of Macon County.”

East Franklin Elementary School Lead Teacher Becky Montgomery said she took the class to learn more about the daily operations of the department. “I learned a great deal about the behind the scenes aspects of the department. I would recommend the course to others because it is very enlightening and so much fun.”

Detective Dani Burrows, who, along with Detective Amy Stewart, taught a class on the juveniles unit of the sheriff's department for the academy, believes the Citizens Academy is a vital resource to citizens. “I would recommend the course to others because I believe it gives the community knowledge and safety tools they can use themselves and share with others,” said Burrows. “I was surprised how interested members of the community were in what we do and really enjoyed the community interaction and getting to share the inner workings of what we do.”

Retiring Superior Court Judge James Downs spoke to Citizens Academy graduates about the importance of community involvement in law enforcement.Marci Holland, a social worker with the Macon County School System, said that even though she knew each presenter before participating in the academy, she was impressed with their level of professionalism and expertise with which they serve the county. “I believe the Citizens Academy engages citizens and teaches them about their sheriff's department and about the county in which they live,” she said. “I loved each presentation – all were interesting and professional.

Belinda Gaines, a retired banker, took the course to learn how the department operates. “I was able to learn to what degree the different departments work with each other and how some of the deputies cover more than one department to make sure the county is as safe as possible,” said Gaines.

“I am extremely pleased with how our first academy went and I look forward to improving for future presentations,” said Holland. “Based on the evaluations we have already received it appears that those who attended were also pleased and very proud of their sheriff’s office and the men and women that serve their community. I am confident that friendships were created but more importantly new partnerships were built with members of our community.”

For more information on the Citizens Academy, contact the sheriff's department at (828)349-2104.


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