this Sept. 16th photo, Portage County Detective Jason Meindl
demonstrates some of the evidence collecting equipment
investigators use at the citizenís academy in the Portage
County sheriff's office in Portage County.
STEVENS POINT -
Sharon Mras has worked with law enforcement officers before,
including preventing child abductions by reporting suspicious
behavior to the police.
So when the
Sheriff's Office announced it was planning a citizen's academy,
Mras jumped at the opportunity to sign up, a news outlet reported.
Mras was one of
about a dozen people who turned out to learn the inner workings of
the local law enforcement agencies at the citizen's academy last
Tuesday. This year, the Portage County Sheriff's Office decided to
combine its citizen's academy with the Stevens Point Police
Department into one nine-week session that began last week and
runs through October.
Combining the two
cuts down on officer overtime and gives citizens an overview of
both departments, said organizer Megann Nowinsky of the Portage
County Sheriff's Office.
held on Tuesday each week, is divided into themes. Participants
last week learned about how detectives work a case, got hands-on
demonstrations on how fingerprinting and DNA collection work and
learned how road crews respond to a crash scene. At other
sessions, participants will learn defense and arrest tactics, use
firearms and practice driving skills.
philosophy behind the citizen's academy is to show citizens what
it is we do on a day-to-day basis," Nowinsky said. In talking
with police, Nowinsky said, participants are able to see how
police officers are people just like them, with jobs to do.
They are, of
course, people with very interesting jobs and stories to tell, as
participants found out firsthand last Tuesday. Detective Josh
Ostrowski walked participants through an investigation of a
multi-county burglary ring that he and other detectives
participants how a single cigarette butt led detectives to link
the crime to man who had been arrested the previous night on
another burglary charge. That man led them to the rest of the
suspects. The detectives' work involved trail cams, GPS units and
investigations involving online re-sale sites such as Craigslist.
After a break,
Detective Jason Meidl demonstrated how detectives pull
fingerprints or tread patterns from a crime scene.
Tom Iverson, 55,
of Amherst, a member of the Amherst Fire Department, said he works
with law enforcement on crash scenes and wanted to know more about
what they did.
interesting," Iverson said. "We've had copper wire
thefts at the telephone company I work with, so I've worked with
Mras, 66, of
Stevens Point said as an owner of a child care center, safety
always is on her mind. Mras also once worked in the juvenile
justice system in Chicago, she said.
Mras said she was
interested in learning about burglaries and how to keep her home
they hope to hold the academy every two years.