Tours of both the current and new jail under construction part of the popular CCSO program

 - Participants in the academy will get to tour the new jail while it is still under construction.

People interested in the inner-working of its county law enforcement agency will soon have a chance to learn a lot about it.

The Crook County Sheriff's Office is once again accepting applications for Citizens' Academy. Applications for the 13-week program, which starts Feb. 6, are available at the front office of the sheriff's office during business hours, or they can be found on the agency's website or Facebook page. The application process will include a limited background investigation.

"This is the sixth year for this very successful program that exposes the citizens to the operations of the Sheriff's Office and lets them see where their tax dollars are being spent," said County Sheriff John Gautney. "This is a course that is free to the public. During the course, citizens will get inside scoop on different divisions of the sheriff's office, including the DA's office, Community Corrections, the jail, search and rescue, emergency management, investigations, K9 demonstration and patrol."

Some of the most popular courses offered during the academy is the handgun safety training and firing range day, and the interactive use of force training. Those who complete all of the firearm safety classes and the range day will qualify for the required class necessary to obtain a concealed handgun license.

"Those are the ones that keep people involved," Gautney said, but he went on to note that many of the courses resonate with those who attend the academy.

"This last class was very interested in the law and how the DA's Office goes about enforcing and prosecuting cases," he offered as an example. "Everything we put in there are things people have rated highly in the past."

Gautney said that the academy evolves each time they offer it as they continually try to improve what the program offers. That is true once again as this year, academy organizers will take advantage of a unique set of circumstances involving the jail.

"We are going to be coming up pretty close to the finish of the jail before this class is over," he said, noting that most years, they give a tour of the existing jail only. "This year, we are going to take the class, after they have toured the old jail, and let them tour the new jail so they can see what will be different."

Each of the Citizens' Academy sessions will be scheduled Wednesday evening from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. through May 1. Classes will be held in the Broughton Room of the Crook County Library.

Gautney cautions that class size is limited to 25 people, so he recommends people interested in participating sign up as soon as possible.

So far, each Citizens' Academy has been a resounding success where Gautney said participants have thoroughly enjoyed the education, and Sheriff's Office staff has enjoyed interacting with and teaching the public.

"I think it's good all the way around," he concluded.

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