Guilford County Sheriff Danny Rogers is getting rid of a lot of the old practices from the Sheriff’s Department as it was run under former longtime Sheriff BJ Barnes, but there’s one tradition he’s decided to continue and put his own unique spin on: Rogers and his new department will use the Guilford County Sheriff’s Citizen Academy as part of a broader effort to bridge the divide between the Sheriff’s Department and the county’s citizens.

The Sheriff’s Citizen Academy is a two-month series of classes and field exercises for those county residents interested in learning more about the Sheriff’s Department.  The once a week evening classes, which will cover a great deal of information regarding both the internal and public-facing operations of the department, will begin on Thursday, February 7.

One of Rogers’ stated commitments as the new sheriff is to bring the department much closer to the citizens it serves; and it’s clear from the description of this year’s academy that the classes will more than ever be an attempt to open those lines of communication.

According to information provided by the department, the main goal of the Sheriff’s Citizen Academy is “to improve law enforcement/community relations through a formalized educational process.”

The class description states that, “Citizens and Sheriff’s representatives will have an opportunity to explore together some of the traditional suspicions and misconceptions generally harbored by both citizens and sheriff’s deputies. Through open discussion of such suspicions and misconceptions, a more harmonious climate for relationships may be established.”

The class is designed to acquaint citizens with the legal requirements officers have to adhere to while carrying out their duties.  According to the description, through participation in the Academy, citizens “will be able to make more informed judgments about the Sheriff’s Office and law enforcement activities and the Sheriff’s Office will become more aware of the feelings and concerns of the community, as expressed by attending citizens.”

The academy will present a wide range of training that in essence will be a condensed version of the standard training curriculum that sheriff’s deputies get when they take the job. These classes often serve as a way to recruit prospective officers and let those interested in a career in law enforcement see if that job is for them.

The Sheriff’s Department will hold classes through February and March on Thursday nights from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.  There will also be four Saturday “labs” – field experiences – to compliment the classes.  The Thursday night classes will be held at the Sheriff’s Department’s administrative offices, the Otto Zenke building, at 400 W. Washington St. in downtown Greensboro. The labs will be held at various locations.

Academy students will even get to use the very cool Firearms Simulation Training System where they have to be quick thinking enough to shoot the movie image of the bad guy trying to shoot them but not blow away the innocent mother who pops up suddenly out of nowhere holding a newborn baby in her arms.

In addition, the class will study use of force issues, gang awareness, opioid overdose response, crime scene processing, traffic stop procedures and jail contraband searches among many other things.

The Sheriff’s Department is currently taking applications for the class.