BECKLEY, W.Va. — The Beckley Police Department’s 2019 Citizen’s Police Academy will commence soon after the opening of the department’s new downtown headquarters in February.
Training Division Commander Capt. Charles Ragland described the purpose of the program as “informational” rather than training-oriented, with classes designed to give residents first-hand knowledge of police procedures, investigation techniques, evidence collection, and police ethics. He added that the overall goal of the academy is to generate communication and to encourage personal relationships between officers and the community they serve.
“The graduates we’ve had have truly been ambassadors to our department. They push people our way. They defend us when you see something bad in the paper or hear it on the news. They really have our backs,” he said.
Ragland said he’s especially looking forward to conducting classes at the new headquarters, which tentatively is scheduled to open in mid-February.
“It’s going to be a state-of-the art police department. Things aren’t cheap, anymore. It’s definitely costing money but it’s worth it. And, when we do tours, and these people get to see what we’re putting in there, they’re going to realize that we’re going to be able to better do our jobs,” said Ragland.
As part of the 12-week academy, Ragland said recruits will experience simulated police calls and situations that require quick thinking and self-control.
“We put a duty belt on them. They have a Glock that’s been transformed into a laser gun, to work with the simulator. They get to carry the equipment, and they get to make the same decisions that we might have to face,” he said.
The Beckley Citizen’s Police Academy begins on March 7th. Applicants must be 18 or older, have no previous criminal record, and be willing to undergo a background check. Beckley and Raleigh County residents are preferred. Applications are available online at https://beckley.org/citizens-police-academy/application and at the police headquarters on Prince St.