If you have ever been curious about what it’s like to have a career in law enforcement, the Sky Valley Citizens’ Academy is the perfect opportunity to find out.
The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office East Precinct, located in Sultan, will be hosting the 13-week series of classes to take place at Sultan Middle School from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Thursday evenings, with one Saturday field trip.
The free academy, which begins on February 6 and will run through May 1, is being organized and led by Sultan Police Chief Lt. Monte Beaton. The program features classroom training, hands-on participation, the chance to ride on patrol with a deputy and even the opportunity to try on a Snohomish County Sheriff’s Officer’s uniform.
“The Citizens’ Academy is a fun and exciting program, with lots of interaction between citizens and deputies,” said Lt. Beaton in a press release.
Beaton will be leading the academy along with Det. Danny Pitocco. Pitocco, who works out of the east county precinct in Sultan, was named Detective of the Year in 2012 by former-Sheriff John Lovick.
“He’s kind of my facilitator,” said Beaton. “And then we have different instructors each week depending upon the topic.”
Chief Beaton said that there are currently over 25 applicants, a number that he would like to see go up to 50 or more.
“I’d like to have about 50 to 75,” said Beaton. “It’s a lot of scheduling and coordination to make this thing work.”
The series will feature patrol officers, detectives, 911 operators, police academy instructors, and more. Each week will focus on a few specific aspects of law enforcement with many known experts who will be teaching classes in their particular specialty.
Week two, which will include patrol procedures and officer safety, will be taught by Deputy Rebecca Lewis, who is the patrol procedures instructor for the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission. Snohomish County Deputy Marcus Dill will join her, and a uniform demonstration will take place as well.
“We’re going to put one of our deputy’s uniforms on one of our students so they can feel what it feels like to wear this stuff,” said Beaton.
A Snohomish County Sheriff’s Officer’s mandated uniform, including bulletproof vest, weighs around 40 pounds.
The week three Traffic Operations class will be taught by Snohomish County Motor Unit Deputies Marty Weinbaum and Tom Percy. An officer will also be there to discuss collisions, who will review accident investigation procedure when it comes to a serious injury or fatality type of situation.
Lynnwood Police Department Officer Mark Brinkman will instruct on the issue of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Brinkman has been recognized repeatedly for his high volume of DUI arrests. His extensive work in traffic safety won him honors in 2011 from Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon, who acknowledged Lynnwood as the leader in Snohomish County DUI arrests. Brinkman is known for his exceptional skill at spotting intoxicated drivers.
Other weeks will include information about the violent offender task force, vehicle pursuits and auto theft, domestic violence and child abuse, crime scene technology, corrections, jail operations and mental health, major crimes investigations and a special presentation at the Snohomish County Search and Rescue facility.
Other courses will include Drugs and Gangs, taught by Lt. Pat Slack, who is the Commander for the Snohomish County Regional Drug and Gang Task Force, Media Response by Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Director of Communications Shari Ireton, and Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe will discuss investigations and prosecution.
Week 10 will feature Crime Prevention and Safety Consultant Trudy Dana. Dana served with the Lynnwood Police Department from 1994 through 2011 and specialized in the production of citizens’ academy programs. She is also a renowned expert in the field of child safety having written two books on the subject; Safe and Sound: A Parents’ Guide to the Care of Children Home Alone and Strangers Who Molest: Protecting Children from Sexual Predators.
“I’ve tried to find the very best people that I can… Subject matter experts who can come in and talk about these issues and who bring with them lots of years of experience,” said Beaton.
Towards the end of the series, academy students will get the opportunity to visit the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue Facility at Taylor’s Landing in Snohomish. The Taylor’s Landing field trip will take place on Saturday, April 26, and will be facilitated by Sgt. Danny Wikstrom, who has been with the sheriff’s department for over 30 years.
“And then at the range we’ll demonstrate some firearms,” said Beaton.
The last class in the series will feature a SWAT demonstration and an official graduation ceremony for academy students, plus information on how to stay involved with the department. Beaton is hoping to inspire some to become interested in volunteering for the sheriff’s department, and also to encourage interaction with the residents of the Sky Valley on a more personal level.
“I want everybody in the valley to know that we’re here,” said Beaton.
Mostly, he wants to change any negative perception of law enforcement and demonstrate that officers are approachable and the department is accessible to citizens. Beaton said that it’s important for everyone to know that police officers have the same difficulties as anybody else; issues with neighbors, personal disappointments, their homes have been broken into, and their children have had difficulties with school and drugs, sometimes even experiencing trouble with the law. Just like anybody else’s kids.
“We’re all kind of in this together; we all have these issues,” said Beaton.
He encourages his officers to be more involved with the community and the people they have been entrusted to serve.
“A lot of what we do in law enforcement has nothing to do with law enforcement at all,” said Beaton. “We’re just trying to solve problems.”
Chief Beaton has been in law enforcement for 23 years. He was the Chief of Police in Darrington before transferring to Sultan last August.
“It can be very rewarding, but it can very be very taxing as well,” said Beaton.
Beaton is looking forward to interacting with his students.
“I want them to know that we’re real people,” said Beaton.
He hopes to be able to create a model with the academy program and hold the courses on a regular basis and perhaps in other areas of the county.
All academy participants must pass a basic criminal background check. Applications are available at the Sultan Police Department located at 515 Main St. in Sultan, at Sultan City Hall, or you can get one online at: http://sheriff.snoco.org/Our_Community/CitizensAcademy.html. Applications will be excepted up until the academy begins on Thursday, Feb. 6.
The Sky Valley Citizens Academy will take place at Sultan Middle School which is located at 301 High Ave. in Sultan.