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Worthington Police Department looking for Citizen Police Academy students

WORTHINGTON -- Ten years ago, Kevin Flynn approached his boss with an idea.

Modeled after a program in Marshall, Flynn wanted to start a Citizen Police Academy.

Then a detective on the Worthington Police Department, Flynn suggested to Public Safety Director Mike Cumiskey that the department offer an academy to further their community policing efforts and give residents the opportunity to learn more about law enforcement and the police department that serves them.

With the go-ahead from Cumiskey, Flynn met with the Marshall Police Department to obtain its outline, then continued to put together a similar program.

In the past 10 years, a variety of people, from mayors to schoolteachers and more, have attended the academy. In 2006, Flynn applied for and received a grant from the Minnesota Department of Justice to purchase translation equipment and the academy became bilingual. Several Hispanic classes graduated from the program.

Now, the academy is looking for a few good applicants from the general public.

The goal of the academy is to enhance the relationship between citizens of Worthington and the police department by using community-oriented methods.

"The more information and understanding shared between the community and law enforcement, the less suspicion, fear and misunderstanding will exist," the academy flier states. "By eliminating the misconceptions and assumptions created by outside entities, we hope to gain a long-lasting partnership with the citizens of the city of Worthington."

Anyone over the age of 18 who resides in Worthington is eligible to attend the program unless they have a felony conviction or recent significant criminal history. The classes take place on Thursdays from 7 to 9 p.m. for eight weeks, and are free of charge.

Students will be exposed to each division of the Worthington Police Department, the criminal justice system, arrest control, firearms, special operations, narcotics and more. Representatives from The Buffalo Ridge Drug Task Force, the Nobles County Attorney's Office and the police department speak on their particular aspect of law enforcement.

"Our primary goal is to explain who we are and what we do -- the ordinances, laws, rules and regulations," Flynn explained. "People that have taken the course, such as city government officials, educators, community leaders, have a better understanding of the role of law enforcement in the community and a good understanding of the criminal justice system from the street through the courtroom."

For additional information about the Citizen Police Academy, please contact Det. Sgt. Kevin Flynn at 372-2136.