The 12th Anson Sheriff’s Citizens Academy held its graduation ceremony on Thursday.
Sheriff Tommy Allen presented a certificate of completion and a small badge lapel pin to each graduate. He also showed a video of many of the photos taken of the activities the class did set to appropriately-themed music including “Jailhouse Rock,” “Bad Boys,” and the James Bond theme song.
The graduates were Bernice Bennett, Tracey Anne Brewer, Cynthia Bower, Theodore Carr, Kishia Dunlap, Lynne Edwards, Isaiah Etheridge, Hubert Gaddy, Kelly Gaddy, Randy Gaddy, Erica Greene, Diane Goodwin, Rachell Hamilton, Shannon Hildreth, Thomas Horne, Kayla Jones, Lisa Little, Barbara Lowe, Carrissima Martin, Judy Morris, Marty Napier, Sherri Napier, Brenda Pegram, Ashley Piotrowski, Kevin Robinson, Billy Thomas, Rowena Thibodeaux, Laura Hasty and Imari Scarbrough.
The class held three-hour sessions each Thursday evening from Feb. 2 to April 3. Before awarding the certificates, Allen recalled the many experiences the class had, including ride-alongs with deputies, seeing a K-9 demonstration, hearing little-known details about the murder of Michael Jordan’s father from an SBI representative, meeting representatives from areas of law enforcement such as the FBI and Secret Service, and more.
Allen said that most of these are things other citizens will never see. “The purpose of the Citizens Academy is to give you a window into law enforcement and the judicial system of Anson County,” he said. “You’ve seen things most citizens never get to see, unless they’re on the other end of it… You got to hear from some people you would normally never get to hear from. The FBI agent was here, and the SBI agent. You got to hear the details behind Michael Jordan’s daddy’s murder. Quite frankly, I didn’t even know all of those details. You got to hear from Homeland Security and the Secret Service, from an agent who protected President Bush.”
Additionally, “You went to the firing range, where you got to actually shoot a gun out there and see the K-9s and how they work to retrieve evidence and protect an officer,” Allen continued. “You got to drive the golf cart with the goggles to see what its like drunk driving, where you had to drive and try not to hit cones representing people. You saw a taser demonstration, and got to go on ride-alongs with the deputies. You’ve had a lot of experiences. Some of you have seen arrests going on. It’s kind of hard to believe that the time has passed so fast.”
Ultimately, the sheriff said that he hopes the group takes away greater understanding from the academy. “I hope that now when you watch something on TV — the news, ‘Cops’ or ‘CSI’ — you’ll look at it with a different perspective and appreciate what law enforcement is doing.”
Allen said that this was a “very good group,” with members participating in activities and asking questions. He also commended law enforcement, saying he would put it up against any other departments.
Class member Theodore Carr said that he enjoyed the class and learned a lot, even as a retired Washington, D.C., police officer. “It gave me a refresher of memory of what responsibilities officers have,” he said. “I worked for 39 years as an officer and this was a very informative experience for me to understand local law enforcement. It’s very important that the citizens understand the demands on the officers and enhance the general support for the officers.”
He said he was grateful to Allen for the experience. “Thanks to Sheriff Allen for an informative and well-organized class,” he said. “Getting a behind-the-scenes look at our sheriff’s department strengthens citizens’ support.”
Class members Kelly and Hubert Gaddy also said they enjoyed the class. “It needs to be longer,” Kelly said. “Six weeks went by in a hurry. I really enjoyed it. It was information that I didn’t know. I really hope that whoever the next sheriff is will continue it.”