FARMINGTON—Not many people can say they’ve been tased voluntarily and liked it – but some recent graduates from the Davis County Citizens Academy did just that.
“Getting tased was the most painful five seconds of my life,” laughed Bountiful resident Haley Harris. “It was totally worth it though. I can say I got tased but not arrested. My family and coworkers wanted to hear all my fun stories the Friday morning after class. I would do it again and again if I could.”
Harris, along with residents from all over the county wore firefighter’s gear, took part in drills, SWAT training, finger printing and other activities with combined instruction from police departments from Woods Cross, Kaysville, Farmington, Bountiful, Centerville, North Salt Lake and Syracuse as well as South Davis Metro Fire, the Sheriff’s Office and the County Attorney’s Office.
This free 14-week course gives a hands-on look at what first responders do every day. It is designed to build mutual respect and trust between the community and the police. It also highlights the importance of residents getting involved in public safety in an effort to prevent the fear of crime and supporting law enforcement in their efforts to keep the peace.
The academy has grown since it was started by the Woods Cross Police Department, and will add the Layton and Clinton Police Departments in the next session that starts March 1, 2017.
“We’d love to have business owners, city councils, neighborhood watch groups and those people who are nervous about the police to come out,” said Woods Cross crime prevention/records clerk Stephanie Gonzales who has helped spearhead the program. “Next time we’ll have a CSI night and an active shooter scenario night then all of the regular stuff too.”
Graduate Laurie Pless from Layton was enthusiastic about what she learned at the academy. “It was awesome,” she said. “I would do it again. It was the highlight of 2016. Everybody ought to try it. My husband encouraged me to do it because he did it too.”
Commissioner elect Randy Elliott echoed Pless. “It was really insightful,” he said. “It helped to be one-on-one with the different agencies to see the different aspects of law enforcement. One minute they might be enforcing the law and another making a rescue or being a paramedic. It gives you an awareness of what it’s like to be in the cops’ shoes.”
In addition to residents, two police officers’ wives took part in the academy to get a first hand look at what their husbands face every day.
“I feel like I’m a pretty supportive wife,” said Connie Barnes, whose husband is with the Centerville Police Department. “I decided to take the class so that I could get into his brain and see what makes him tick. It was very enlightening to see what he does. It was shocking to me because I thought I knew more than I did.”
Besides the fun and excitement, the overriding sentiment was a new appreciation for law enforcement. “The vulnerable stories you shared with us made me realize how much you love our community and us,” said one participant. “I can’t thank you enough.”
Woods Cross Police Chief Greg Butler led the group in a moment of silence for West Valley Officer Cody Brotherson who was killed recently in the line of duty.
“I got to go to a vigil for officer Brotherson,” said one academy graduate. “I want everybody to love and respect our men and women in law enforcement. His father reminded us all that they (police officers) volunteer, they don’t have to do this.”
Contact the Woods Cross Police Department for information or to register for the next class. Everyone is welcome to attend.