Once again, the O’Fallon Police Department took the Senior Citizen Academy on the road.
This year, O’Fallon Police Support Services Commander Capt. Mark Berry said his team visited the O’Fallon Cambridge House senior residents for two hours once a week for the month-and-a-half to share information and resources on various topics including presentations on topics like agency history and structure, police operations, patrol tactics, traffic stops and DUI’s, current drug trends, general investigations, response to resistance, fire safety and demonstrations, major case squad, 911 communications, fraud and identity theft.
The program is more intensive with more physically demanding elements in the Citizen Police Academy versus the program tailored for the community’s senior citizens participating.
“I enjoyed it every week,” Mary Ellen Battoe said.
Battoe said she has always had a special spot for the men and women of the O’Fallon Police and Public Safety Building because until 2008, her son Scott Battoe, who is currently the St. Clair County courthouse chief bailiff, was a 30-year veteran officer for the O’Fallon Police reaching to the level of captain.
Appreciation for his line of work increased she said after the hands-on classes and presentations of the nuts and bolts of public safety.
Following the six-week Senior Citizen Academy, 23 residents graduated April 22.
Over the course of the program, public safety personnel trained graduates on a variety of topics such as patrol operations, 911 communications, medical information, fire safety, investigations and fraud.
“Particularly, I think the way they came to us and explained things in terms we would understand was great,” Battoe said.
All of the graduates were presented with certificates, official police patch and a challenge coin. They were also treated with cake, punch and a outdoor public safety vehicle display.
Following the graduation celebration, graduates were able to venture outdoors to the parking lot for what some residents called “exciting field trip of sorts,” to participate in the O’Fallon Public Safety vehicle display, which included up-close and personal viewing of an O’Fallon Police patrol cruiser, a Fire Rescue ladder truck apparatus and an Emergency Medical Technician ambulance.
Capt. Berry said presenting this class to the older generation of the community brings a smile to his face, and heart.
“During our very first presentation there was one very sweet resident (at Cambridge) who raised her hand and then grabbed my arm, and said ‘I’ve been hearing all about the citizen academies. I wanted so badly to go, but didn’t have the means to, but here you all are bringing the class to us,’” Berry said.
Often times, Berry said the senior citizen community feels as though they are forgotten, and this is another reminder to them from the department that we haven’t forgotten, nor do we wish to.
“They really appreciated this because maybe society makes them feel uninvolved, but they really are important members of our community here, and in others,” Berry said.
O’Fallon City Mayor Gary Graham publicly congratulated everyone who participated in the academy in a recent press release.
“The Academy provides a great opportunity for our citizens to learn more about law enforcement and our Public Safety Department,” Graham said. “Let’s all applaud their dedication to improving the partnerships between O’Fallon’s residents and the O’Fallon Public Safety Department.”
Resident of O’Fallon since 1954, Larry Dedmon said he found the program to be “very interesting.”
“I’ve lived here a long time, and it was great to be able to learn more about the guys and gals who protect us, and come to Cambridge House when there’s an emergency,” Dedmon said.
Dedmon wasn’t the only one raving about his favorite program section, however, Richard Perry was in the same boat as Dedmon — with a new found appreciation for fraud and identity theft.
“My favorite part though was being able to ask the presenters questions and the Attorney General’s (office representative’s) speech on fraud — you just never know about stuff like that anymore, anyone could be a victim.”
Next fall, Berry said the department will be hosting the fifth Citizen Police Academy, which includes hands-on training and presentations on topics like agency history and structure, police operations, patrol tactics, traffic stops and DUI’s, current drug trends, general investigations, firearm training, response to resistance, CPR and AED training, fire safety and demonstrations, major case squad, 911 communications and an eight-hour ride-a-long with an officer.
The fourth Senior Citizen Police Academy will be forthcoming next year, but dates have not been released as of yet.
This academy is open to O'Fallon citizens or persons working in the City of O’Fallon There will be a tax deductible $25 course fee to the participants, which will be donated to The BACKSTOPPERS Inc.
The Academy is designed to give participants a realistic view of the day to day operations of public safety work by providing instruction, practicals and education on numerous topics.
The Academy will be open to the first 20 qualified applicants, who are 21 years of age or older.
For more information on the program or registration information for future Citizen Police Academies call Capt. Berry at 624-9512.