Some Royse City have a little more knowledge of how to fight crime, help their community and watch for illegal activity.

They recently graduated from the first Royse City Citizens Police Academy, where they got a closer glimpse into the inner workings of the Royse City Police Department. It covered training, criminal investigations, driving while intoxicated enforcement, crime prevention, family violence, narcotic investigations, firearms, building searches, the K-9 unit and tactical operations over 35 hours.

Lenora Paonessa, John Dunlap, Kurt Schulz, Brad Partridge, Mark Scroggins, John Smith, Scott Ulrich, George McCain, Stephanie Coleman and Terryl Bratek are the first graduating class of the academy. All but Bratek attending the Feb. 2 academy’s graduation, where they received a certificate and heard from officers of the Royse City Police Department.

“We appreciate you. You’re kind of part of the department now. We do appreciate all that you have done for us,” Chief of Police Tom Shelton said to the class at the graduation.

The academy met for three hours each Thursday for the last several months at City Hall where they learned about auto theft, how stress impacts officers, gun safety, thefts, and other crime prevention and law enforcement issues.

Shelton wanted to have the academy to better educate the public about the inner workings of law enforcement and the department. He did that by inviting those who know the Royse City streets and where crime occurs best to speak at the academy: The officers of the Royse City Police Department.

Patrol Officer Rick Darby spent one class discussing how thieves break into cars. He showed the class tools that thieves use and how fake drivers licenses and vehicle registration papers.

Investigator and Sgt. Jim Baker spoke about child abuse to the class. He investigates everything from criminal cases to white collar crime, such as fraud.

Shelton, a former president of the Texas Tactical Police Officers Association, showed videos of his days on the Dallas SWAT team. The class wanted to see a Special Weapons and Tactics team member pull bars from windows on barricaded houses in Dallas, which they recently saw on new the TV show “Dallas SWAT.”

The class also got to ride along with officers while they were on patrol. They also searched a building carrying a plastic gun and flashlight during a burglary scenario. They also got to fire a few guns at a gun range in Terrell.

The academy alumnae have been helping answer phones at the police station and volunteering their time in other ways to assist the department.

Paonessa was one of two of the students who spoke at the graduation about their experience at the academy. She said she was very glad she attended. She presented Shelton, each patrol officer, Public Safety Officer Karen Mills and even the police dog Paco a certificate of appreciation at the graduation.

John Smith also thanked the officers and Shelton for holding the class.

“When I start speaking about the chief to anyone, they’ve got nothing to say but good things about our chief, from the Department of Public Safety department, to the chief in Lavon, to the Rockwall County Sheriff’s Department. We don’t think about what they have to deal with,” Smith said.

Partridge was a little overwhelmed by the amount of danger that the officers are constantly in, he said.

“Some of it was overwhelming, all of the danger that is involved with being a police officer. You don’t realize the possibility of the danger that is there. The put themselves in the line of fire everyday,” Partridge said.

McCain, a former City Council member, wanted to take the class to support the police department.

“I’m supporting the police department but I’m glad I took it because it gives me more in-depth experience of what officers do. It exceeded my expectations,” McCain said.

Schultz went to Sam Houston State University to major in law enforcement and was impressed with the class.

“I thought what made it good was that they had numerous officers come in and help with the classes,” Schultz said.

The department is currently taking applications for a second police academy to be held from 7 to 9:30 p.m. every Thursday from Feb. 23 through May 18 each at City Hall, 100 W. Main St. Anyone who is age 21 or older who does not have a felony conviction may apply for the academy.

Completed applications may turned into the police station or City Hall or mailed to the Royse City Police Department, P.O. Box 638, Royse City, Texas 75189. The deadline to turn in applications in Friday.

The fee to attend is $15. For more information, call the department at 972-636-9422.

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