Citizens Academy connects police/public

Published 11:45 pm Friday, February 13, 2015

From social media accounts to registration of personal security cameras with area sheriff’s offices, law enforcement leaders are reaching out to community members in a personal way like never before.

Besides striking up friendships, they say it reduces crime.

Informed and engaged residents are more likely to report suspicious activity, creating more information for police to use in solving crimes and, hopefully, preventing crimes.

“If citizens have a better understanding of what we do and why, they are in a better position to help us keep our community safe,” St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne said in promoting such relationships.

In the spirit of fostering those relationships, Champagne started Citizens Academy to better inform residents about the operations of the Sheriff’s Office.

The nine-week course allows attendees a closer look at how 21st Century police work is done, from forensics to school security.

These types of detailed, open houses are crucial in creating, keeping and enhancing relationships between police and the community they serve.

The next course begins Feb. 25.

Those interested in attending must fill out an application at, pass a background check and commit to attending all nine of the weekly classes, which are scheduled weekly from 5:45 to 9 p.m. over the course of nine weeks. Attendees must live or work in St. Charles Parish to qualify. 

Victor Buccola, who lives in Destrehan, has attended Citizens Academy twice before, once by himself and once with his wife.

He told L’OBSERVATEUR both of his experiences with the Academy were informative. 

“Being a taxpayer who helps fund law enforcement, I was curious to know what are they spending my money on?” he said. “How are they using it?

“They’re willing to answer any and all of your questions at the Academy.” 

It’s a sentiment St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office leaders want to share with more in the community, and Citizens Academy is a great way to get started.