The Orange County Citizens Sheriff Academy is scheduled to start on the Tuesday, Jan. 24.
The Citizens Sheriff Academy began seven years ago, during Sheriff Mike White’s administration, and it received such strong support that it has become an honored event. The Academy will go until the beginning of March and classes will be held every Tuesday and Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m.

The Academy covers all aspects of what it means to be a member of the Sheriffs office. It allows the students to participate in a variety of task that the general public will never get to see. This includes observing patrols, criminal investigations, S.W.A.T. demonstrations, and others. The students will also get to listen to an array of guest speakers including County Court at Law 2 Judge Troy Johnson, District Attorney John Kimbrough and a special appearance by Ranger Smith.

Lt. Dennis Marlow stated that the reasons for the Academy were educational.

Judge Johnson will be speaking on post conviction procedures. This will include what happens when a person is convicted of a crime, the different things that the judge must take into consideration, and how he determines sentencing. Kimbrough will be discussing the prosecution side, what it takes to present a case, and getting that case from there to a conviction. Ranger Smith, the Texas Ranger assigned to the Orange area, will be covering different aspects of his job and how he gets involved with the sheriffs department.

“Basically its just to make the citizens of Orange County a little bit more informed of everything that goes on at the sheriffs office and what we are responsible for,” Marlow said.

 “This includes the law enforcement needs outside of the incorporated areas, but we’re also tasked with housing all arrested persons within the county of Orange. We take each area of the department, from our patrol, criminal investigation, the jail division, and also the support division and we give a overview of what each of those division are responsible for and what different functions they perform in our community.”

These overviews aren’t simply walking the students around and showing them how each department works, these are “observing” hours. Time which the students get to actively follow the officers around for several hours and observe how they do their job in the public. A behind the scene view that public is rarely witness do, not counting the view from behind bars.

“The most popular part is the S.W.A.T. demonstration day,” Marlow said. “We take them out to range and they get to watch the S.W.A.T. team perform different training exercises, anything from entry on a vehicle, to resident assaults. They also get to inspect many different weapons that the S.W.A.T. team utilizes and have the opportunity to test fire those weapons.”

The respect and attention that the students receive during the Academy has a huge impact on how they act after their graduation. Many of these citizens are so impressed that they join the Citizens Alumni, an organization that was created after the first Sheriff Academy. This group is hugely responsible for helping the sheriff’s office with a multitude of programs. The Cops and Kids, and Blue Santa Program are both supported by the Citizens Alumni.

Along with creating the Alumni, the graduates of the Academy also have a positive effect on others. Lt. Marlow added, “A lot of times we have found that many of those citizens are able to go out and if they encounter someone who has had an interaction with the law, these citizens are able to explain to them what they know of the system.”

Since the application process has already passed, those interested must wait until next year to apply. The application can be found on the Orange County Sheriff’s Office website, and for those who will be attending any questions or concerns can be directed to Lt. Dennis Marlow or Captain Janois Strause at 409-883-2612.