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Riverdale offers Citizen Public Safety Academy

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

There's still time to apply for a handful of slots available with the Citizen Public Safety Academy hosted by the Riverdale Public Safety Department.

According to Sgt. Nicole Rabel, of the Riverdale Police Department, the academy will be held from Sept. 3, to Nov. 5, on Thursday evenings, 6-9 p.m., with graduation taking place on Nov. 9. The deadline to apply is this Friday.

The academy is designed to foster better communication between citizens and public safety departments, through education and citizen feedback, Rabel said. "It's a wonderful opportunity for citizens of the community to learn about the practice and training that officers and fire personnel go through," she said.

The free classes will be held at the Riverdale Police Department, with the exception of a firearms-training-simulator class that is scheduled in Forest Park, according to Rabel. The academy is held twice per year, usually in March, then again in September, she said.

The program is open to Riverdale residents, and employees of the City of Riverdale, who are 18 years of age, or older. Persons, who have felony convictions, are not eligible for the program, Rabel said.

A total of 15 people will be allowed in the upcoming course, with only five slots still available, she said. Classes will include CPR, First Aid, and a Firearms-Training-Simulator (F.A.T.S.) class.

"The F.A.T.S. training is a program that officers use in training," said Rabel. "It's a simulated program that puts officers in a situation that's interactive. They have to follow through the call, where there's a possibility that it could escalate to an officer having to use deadly force.

"We think it's important for citizens to understand how quickly a situation can escalate. It allows them to experience how an officer may have to make a split-second decision, on whether to shoot or not shoot, or use deadly force," she said.

Other classes will focus on 9-1-1 procedures. "They'll have an opportunity to talk with our 9-1-1 operators and learn not only how we answer calls, but how calls are dispatched. Then, each member has an opportunity to do a ride-along with police and fire," Rabel said.

Classes will be taught by certified Riverdale police officers, firefighters and civilian instructors. "We also have two members of the Clayton County Police Department Drug and Gang Task Force to instruct drug-awareness and gang-awareness classes," she said.

Applications may be downloaded on the City of Riverdale web site, www.riverdalega.gov. To find the application, click on departments, drop down to police department, then click on community policing.

The application must be printed, and then faxed or mailed to the Riverdale Police Department. For more information, visit the web site, or e-mail Sgt. Nicole Rabel at nrabel@riverdalega.gov.