ROSSFORD — Policy changes and other goals were realized as the first Rossford Citizen’s Police Academy graduated 16 members of the public on Wednesday.
“It was the human factor that we learned,” Joseph Baz, one of the students, said. “We humanized each other.”
Prior to the students receiving their certificates of completion, the class had a roundtable discussion of what was learned in the previous eight weeks, by both the students and the department, and what could be improved for the next class.
In class after class, beginning with the department mission statement, “Community first through service and partnership,” the reality of police as people, who are working with the community, highlighted that human factor.
Another goal was giving the officers experience in presenting the department to the public.
“I think we had three or four officers give presentations. I think we will try to kick that up some more next year,” Chief Todd Kitzler said, after listing off half a dozen members of the department that taught, or otherwise helped out.
In fact, after reviewing the subjects covered, more than a dozen of the 18 officers were part of at least one class.
While the chief and Lt. Craig Revill taught at every class session, officers who were experts in their specialty were brought in to teach, many of whom were from other departments or agencies that the Rossford PD works with.
Each class involved policing policy discussions, not merely lectures.
More than just improving future courses, Kitzler pointed out that the students in the class are members of the public who have helped to change department policing policy.
“One goal of the whole academy was policy change,” Kitzler said. “You remember the difference between shall and should? We made that change. That policy has changed. It probably would still be the same way as before, if we wouldn’t have had that discussion. You guys are the public and you contributed to that. If anything good came out of this whole academy, that was it.”
The fifth week was about the Special Response Team, which some departments call a SWAT team.
During the course of discussion on hostages, barricades and attacks on schools, Kitzler presented the department First Response policy. It came from their current best practices manual.
“If a suspect is actively engaged in the infliction of serious bodily harm or other life-threatening activity toward others, officers should take immediate action, if reasonably practicable, while requesting additional assistance,” stated the manual.
After a class debate, it was suggested that should be changed to shall.
Rossford Councilman Chris Heban was one of the graduates. He suggested that there be more time spent on the Lambert murder case, with the many nuances of an actual investigation, the techniques involved and how they relate to the courts.
The class universally enjoyed use of the Milo Range multi-media interactive training simulator.
“All of you did a really good job with de-escalation,” Kitzler said of the class.
He said that future classes would get an extra hour with the unit, so a wider variety of scenarios could be experienced.
“I would have liked to have seen more traffic stops, because that’s what we do the most,” Revill said. “A lot of the time when you see an officer-involved shooting, usually it involves some kind of a traffic stop.
“You’re standing at a window and suddenly have a gun pointed at you,” Revill said.
State Rep. Haraz Ghanbari, R-Perrysburg, was the special guest speaker for the closing event. Ghanbari is known for his support of law enforcement.
He focused on proactive policing, while also encouraging graduates to continue their education and take part in a ride-along with an officer.
Prior to becoming a legislator, Ghanbari was a journalist. During his remarks he mentioned that one of his first published stories, when he was 13 years old, was about a ride-along he did with a police officer.
Graduates were then presented with their certificates by Kitzler, Revill and Rossford Mayor Neil MacKinnon III, followed by photos and cake.