Two years ago, Fort Dodge Police Chief Tim Carmody proposed the idea of a class where members of the community could learn about how different law enforcement and public safety agencies work.
The class is now approaching its fifth session; Carmody said there are close to 100 members of the Fort Dodge and Webster County community who have participated in Citizen's Academy.
"They've become another audience to push information directly out to and they share that information," Carmody said of the alumni. "We've gotten ongoing feedback from some of them and how they use the class information and how it's been valuable to them."
Citizen's Academy is an eight-week class that gives an in-depth look at how different agencies in Fort Dodge operate. The class meets for three hours on Tuesday nights and covers agencies including the Fort Dodge Police Department, Webster County Sheriff's Department, Iowa State Patrol, Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and the Webster County attorney's office.
The fifth session of Citizen's Academy begins Sept. 10 and lasts until Oct. 29. Carmody said the department is accepting applications for the free program. He said the goal is to have a class of up to 25 people. The department has already received four applications.
While Citizen's Academy has become a part of the community over the past two years, Carmody said not everyone knows about it.
"We've still encountered people who have not heard about it," Carmody said. "That means we have more work to do."
Even though the same agencies participate in Citizen's Academy as they did two years ago, Carmody said there have been changes to the class.
"We're always refining the process," he said. "In the fall session, we've switched the outdoor class so that it's earlier in the class and the weather is still nice."
That class features presentations by the Fort Dodge Fire Department and Fort Dodge/Webster County Special Emergency Response Team.
Carmody said there continues to be positive feedback from those who have participated in the class.
"The surveys we hand out are still very positive," he said. "And the desire to extend the class and make it longer is still there."
Even those who work in law enforcement have gained new knowledge with Citizen's Academy.
Jeremey Moore, the FDPD's police administrative technician, was a member of the spring 2013 class.
"I thought it gave a great look at what these agencies do for our community," Moore said. "The class really makes that information accessible for people who may not be aware."
He said he would recommend the class.
"Because there were people from different agencies, it was beneficial even to people who work in the law enforcement field," he said.
Applications for Citizen's Academy are due Aug. 30 by 5 p.m. at the Fort Dodge Police Department's office in the Webster County Law Enforcement Center. They can be found on the city of Fort Dodge's website under the Police Department's page, as well as on the city's Facebook page.