Citizens learning what happens behind the badge

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) — “It’s not an easy job for them,” said Kim Eberle, one of the newest graduates from the Cheetowaga Citizen Police academy, an intensive 13-week program designed similarly to the real police academy. The goal of the citizen academy is to give civilians, everyday people, an inside look at what it takes to be on the force.

“They’re human beings,” said Eberle who went through the academy with her son. “They have to protect themselves as well as us and seeing how every day they’re giving it 100%”

The courses vary from talking with family life specialists to doing ride alongs, going to the shooting range and being put in a simulator to react during real life situations.

“It just tests to see what we go through out on the road,” said Lt. Brian Coons with the Cheektowaga Police Department. “They learn our day to day operations and what our limitations are and what our authority is out on the road.”

Lt. Coons and those going through the academy think now, especially with all national spotlight shining brighter on police enforcement, these courses are helpful and important.

“They [the citizens] come in here and have some sort of idea so that if something happens in town, they’ll have another side other than the side of what they hear on the news,” said Lt. Coons. “They know what we go through and what our procedures are and our way of thinking is.”

“With what you hear nowadays about how police are getting a bad rep, I don’t believe it,” said Eberle. “This was amazing; very interesting. We learned a lot.”

Lt. Coons said he hopes citizens receiving this information will help build better communities.

“We have to have these relationships. If you just shut your department off to the rest of the public, it doesn’t do you any good.”

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