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Diverse group begins course

A young man fresh out of high school, an economic development official, a pastor, a homemaker mother and her daughter-in-law, current and retired factory workers and a gun shop owner are among the wide cross-section of city residents to comprise the first class of the Bellefontaine Police Department’s Citizens Police Academy.

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ABOVE: Bellefontaine Police Sgt. Allen Shields addresses academy members. BELOW: Participants look at the display of historic items inside Police Chief Brandon Standley’s office. FRONT PAGE PHOTO: Bellefontaine Police Chief Brandon Standley gestures as he speaks to members of the first Citizens Police Academy during the group’s first meeting Thursday evening. (EXAMINER PHOTO | REUBEN MEES)

“I’m pleased with the turnout and the level of interest in the academy and I think it’s only going to grow,” said Police Chief Brandon Standley, who has been focusing on better communication between the citizenry and law enforcement as a top priority since his appointment in November 2011.

The academy, which lasts 11 weeks, began Thursday evening and will culminate with a graduation ceremony May 2 at Chattan Loch.

“The objective is to provide a unique learning experience to each one of you,” academy coordinator Sgt. Allen Shields told the group at the beginning of the night. “Another goal is to enhance the communication between you as citizens and the officers out there in the community. Because without communication, we cannot do what we have to do.

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