Polk County Sheriff Byron Lyons has introduced a few new events in an effort to build a stronger bond between law enforcement and the public.
Earlier this week, a gathering with citizens for coffee at The Bull Shack allowed them to discuss current events and to meet county deputies. There are plans for similar occurrences in the future in an attempt to improve engagement.
One of the main topics at Tuesday’s coffee conference was the new citizens’ academy. It is designed to give the public insight into the procedures for deputies to obtain a license and functions performed to protect and serve.
The academy will be divided into several sections over 11 weeks — jail, patrol, procedures, criminal investigation division, evidentiary, and the forensics lab with fingerprinting.
Instructors from the district attorney’s office, justice of the peace offices, probation and the local Texas Ranger are all part of the learning experience.
There is an application process that is on the Polk County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, as well as their website. There is an icon that can be clicked to print the application, yet it can be emailed or dropped off at the station. Background investigations will be performed because academy students will be exposed to some sensitive equipment and information.
The deadline to apply is March 10 and start date is March 24. All students must be a resident of Polk County, and classes are scheduled for Thursdays 6-9 p.m.
“We want to build better communication with the communities we serve,” Lyons said. “It’s about building familiarity and relationships. The academy is free, but you do have to pay $35 for a polo shirt because we want everyone to look uniform. We want to receive information from the community, find out their concerns. This will open up an avenue for us to reach out.”
Though the first academy is for adults 18 years of age or older, the hope is to hold classes designed for children in the future.