By David Stoltz, Branson Globe Correspondent
Ever wondered what it would be like to enforce the laws in a small city that attracts upwards of 8 million tourists a year?
Here’s your chance to find out!
The Branson Police Department is accepting applications for the Citizens Police Academy – a 12-week behind-the-scenes look at the BPD. Topics range from patrol procedures and tactical operations (SWAT) to traffic enforcement and crime scene processing.
Participants will get a department tour and also meet BPD’s K9 team, and at the course conclusion they’ll have the option to participate in the ride-along program.
Classes will be held from 6-9 p.m. Thursday nights from Sept. 3 to Nov. 19 at the Joint Training Center in Branson. Space is limited to 30 people and tends to fill up quickly, so if you’re interested, get busy!
Interested candidates must be at least 21 years of age and have no felony convictions. Priority is also given to people who live or work in the City of Branson, and also to those who may have been on the previous year’s waiting list. There is no cost to enrollees.
Each night will feature a different topic taught by subject matter experts, beginning with an overview of the BPD mission and goals. Classes will feature a mixture of lecture and hands-on experiences.
“It’s a way for citizens to kind of peal back the layers and let them see what the department’s role is,” said Sgt. Stan Kaufmann.
Offering this course “gives us a connection to the community,” Kaufmann explained. “A lot of these people going through there, they will help us in other avenues, like ‘National Night Out,’” he said. “I’ve been flagged down several times by Academy graduates. They’re more comfortable relaying concerns about what’s going on in the community and kind of be your eyes and ears, and let us know what’s going on.”
One benefit to the community is the Branson Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association (BCPAAA), a group of 64 members from the Academy’s classes of 2017, 2018 and 2019. The BCPAA meets the second Thursday of each month in the city hall courtroom. But since Covid-19, the meetings have been held via ZOOM. Membership is open to Branson Citizens Police Academy graduates, and dues are $20 annually.
BCPAA is an IRS 501©(3) non-profit organization with the missions of: 1) supporting and assisting the Branson Police Department in promoting support of the BPD, including providing citizens with an understanding of the dedication and integrity of the BPD; 2) supporting future Branson Citizens Police Academy classes and developing closer contact with the graduates; and 3) participating in activities that contribute to the well-being of the community.
The BCPAAA has helped the BPD with National Night Out, Shop with a Hero, Law Enforcement Week, awards of New Branson Citizens Police Academy graduation, assisted with Meals for Police Officers, assisted with serving refreshment at new officer and new K-9 badge pinnings, and other activities with help may be needed.
Cris Bohinc serves as the group’s president. The BCPAAA has a full slate of officers as well that serve the organization. Jerry Buckley, who serves as the group’s print/broadcast media representative, called the training “fantastic. I thought I knew a lot about police operations as our son was a reserve police officer for the city of Spokane WA for three years and we prepared tax returns for a number of officers from sheriff to California Highway Patrol during our working days in California. We thought we heard it all. We didn’t. Nothing is held back in the evening classes conveniently offered after work hours.”
Buckley also offered praise for the BCPAAA. “Our members are dedicated citizens joined together to support our Branson Police Department.”
Apply for the 2020 Branson Citizens Police Academy at www.bransonmo.gov/628/Special-Programs#CPA or in person at the Police Department. Submit applications in person or via email to Officer Darold Donathan.
For questions about CPA, contact Officer Donathan at email@example.com or 417-337-8503.