Starting Sept. 22, a group of 12 Rogers residents were able to get a glimpse into the everyday activities of the Rogers Police Department and learn about recruitment, drug enforcement, use of force and more at the start of the Police Citizens Academy.

“Our goals are to build relationships within the community, be transparent to the community of what the police department does and, most important, give them some educational insight of what our police department does in Rogers so they have a better understanding when things come up and or happen in our community,” said Sgt. Jeff Beck, who helps run the program.

The program is free to residents who apply. The only requirements are that those participating have to be a resident of Rogers or a business owner in the community, pass a criminal background check and must be 18 years or older.

“So far it’s really informative,” program participant Brandon Anderson said. “Teaches us a little more on what [the police department] does... I live and work here in town and it was an opportunity to get a peek behind the scenes.”

Other participants joined the program as well to get a look at what the police department does.

“It’s great,” program participant Susan Halgrimson said. “I think it’s important for people to be aware and understand what our police force does.”

The program consists of seven weeks of learning and the eighth week is a social and graduation. During the eight-week program, participants tour the police station, learn about how police officers are recruited, investigations, drug education and DWI enforcement, officer complaint process, K-9 unit, firearm safety, police training, and more.

The participants will also be able to go on a ride-along with an officer. The speakers are a mix of young officers who are in their 20s and those like Beck, who has been a police officer for 24 years. It also includes detectives, officers, a Hennepin County crime lab detective and an officer with the K-9 unit.

“Originally, why I got into this is because there’s a lot of controversy with law enforcement with the public nowadays and I think this is a good opportunity to help bridge that gap and create a better relationship again,” said officer Sydney Higgins, who is one of the speakers at the program.

The Citizens Academy was put together to show what a police officer might go through at the start of their career such as their recruitment process then continue into the full realm of duties that the Rogers Police Department has. It was a passion project of Chief Dan Wills when he came into the department.

“When Chief Wills came in, this is one of the [programs] he wanted to start,” Beck said. “It’s a great opening transparency for Chief Wills to have now that he’s here. And with what’s happening in law enforcement and the negative light that is shining on law enforcement, I think it’s perfect timing for us to open our doors and allow our citizens to see what is going on in our police department.”

The Rogers Police Department plans to host the academy yearly. Applications will open again in early July 2022 and close on Aug. 15and can be found at rogersmn.gov/citizens-academy. The program will start again in September 2022 with a maximum of 20 participants.

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