Korean War veteran/POW Norman Hale addressed the opening session of the Cullman County Sheriff's Office Citizens' Academy Tuesday evening. / W.C. Mann
CULLMAN – The newest installment of the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) popular Citizens’ Academy started Tuesday evening at the CCSO Training Center adjacent to the sheriff’s office/detention center. The program gives residents an inside look at how the CCSO and other law enforcement agencies work; with participants touring the sheriff’s office and Cullman County Detention Center, participating in shooting simulations at Wallace State and live-fire exercises on the range, learning about numerous CCSO programs and procedures, and riding along with deputies on patrol
According to Capt. Mark Persall, 87 residents enrolled in the academy this time, and, even with a few inevitable last-minute withdrawals, the class still kicked off with 82 in attendance.
And it’s not all just about cops-and-robbers stuff, either. Participants will get the opportunity to meet local and state elected officials, and other interesting dignitaries. On opening night, students were treated to a presentation followed by informal Q&A with Korean War veteran Norman Hale, who spent more than two years as a POW.
Sheriff Matt Gentry said about having the public come out for Citizens’ Academy:
“I get very excited when I see a group this large that wants to be involved in their county. First and foremost, it’s an honor and a privilege for me to be the sheriff of Cullman County. This is my home, and this is where I was born, and this is where I’ll die. So I tell the other 66 sheriffs, I say, ‘I live in the greatest county in the state of Alabama, and it’s because of our citizens.’
“One of the things we believe in at the CCSO, and this is something that we campaigned on, and this is something that we believe with all of our hearts–we talk about this all the time: the sheriff’s office doesn’t belong to me, it doesn’t belong to the deputies; it belongs to all of us. And we, as a community, make our sheriff’s office strong.”
The Citizens’ Academy is a nine-week course. Participants meet weekly and at the end will take part in a graduation ceremony.
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