Learning the ins and outs of police work

The 32nd Citizens Police Academy class graduated May 22 with 28 participants. The Junior Citizens Police Academy class graduated May 7 with 15 participants. Both programs are under the direction of Sgt. Don Fowler of the Independence Police Department.

“Graduation for the Citizens Police Academy is two times a year,” said Fowler, a veteran officer of 31 years. “There is a March-April-May class and an October-November-December class. We are taking applications for the March 2009 class, which requires a background check for each participant. There is no fee involved.”

The Citizens Police Academy has graduated 776 participants since its inception in 1992. This class graduates are Mary Baker, Teresa Carson, Greg Fasse, Kaitlynn Fisher, Peter Freeman, Stephen Harris, Jennifer Hayes, Beverly Herndon, Lisa Hull, David and Kathleen Liggett, Dan Mohoney, Virginia Mashburn, Todd Miller, John Milner, Butch Ogg, Danielle Parker, Natalie Pasquarette, Gerald Pattillo, Elton Plaster, Becca Roberts, Karen, Warren L. and Warren T. Roland, Eugene Story, Janet Uman, David Wagner and Bob Washburn.

The Junior Citizens Academy, for ages 15 to 18, is a 10-week course during March, April and May. The program started in 1999, and 178 teens have graduated. This year’s graduates are, from Truman High School, Lauren Bruening, Brandelynn Buchanan, Ethan Curtis, Christopher Eastridge, Blake Harris, Bethany Wicker; from Chrisman High School, Ronald Johnson, Chris Shaffer, Kevin Simpson, Paul Tanuvasa; from Raytown High School, Bradley and Christian Schamback. Also, Ricky Nicols from Blue Springs School District, Tyler Orell, from Independence Academy High School and Joel Blanchard.

Citizens Academy

The Citizens Academy’s programs give the participants an overview of what the Police Department does for the community. Weekly programs included a demonstration from the K-9 Unit and from the Crime Scene Unit. Other programs were about burglary, rape, gang violence, police dispatcher, Neighborhood Watch and the Weed and Seed Program. There was also a ride-along to give the participant knowledge of what a police officer may encounter while on duty.

Completion of the academy is also a requirement to continue to the Volunteers in Police Service program. Graduates from the academy are volunteers who assist the IPD in administrative work such as at the Englewood substation and child identification programs. VIPS graduates may patrol shopping areas in unmarked cars. No graduate is allowed to carry a gun. They are additional “eyes and ears” of the department.


I had the pleasure of attending the 32nd graduation. To my surprise, I found the graduates to be very committed to improving their neighborhoods and working as a volunteer for the Police Department. There were of all ages, all walks of life and  represented Independence, Blue Springs, Kansas City and Sugar Creek. From the business community were Greg Fasse, owner of Greg’s Lock & Key Service, Becca Roberts owner of The Travel Store, and Karen and Warren Roland of Roland Automotive. Other careers represented were firefighters, administrative, retired, and computer services.

Retired from Dean Machinery, Butch Ogg said, “I took this class to find out more about law and order. I also plan to continue with VIPS training.”

Danielle Parker, Sheffield Family Life Center, Kansas City, thought the program was awesome.

“I really liked how much the officers’ care about the citizens. I have a lot of respect for their positions. I plan to become more active in my community and also to continue onto the VIPS training,” she said.

Bob Washburn, city employee, said you see behind the scenes of the Police Department and it tries to be proactive with Neighborhood Watch.

“You see how successful they have been at restoring order to Hawthorn Place,” he said. “The Junior Citizen’s Academy is also special and lets teens know what officers can do for them. If teens attended, they would have a more positive attitude toward police work”

Karen Roland, Roland Automotive, said her son got her involved. She learned a lot about community outreach and the problems with pedophiles found through the computer.

There were many more accolades about this program, too numerous to report.

The city has 204 sworn officers, 85 civilian employees with a budget of $22.5 million, Fowler said.

“The force needs more police officers for our growing city,” he said.

For further information contact Sgt. Don Fowler at (816) 325-7876 or at dfowler@indepmo.org.