The Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office wants to educate the local citizenry on the agency’s internal structure and the integral part the agency plays in the local community.

The Citizens Law Enforcement Academy will teach citizens how to better protect themselves from being a crime victim, how to report crime and the ramifications of committing a crime. Attendees will receive knowledge on officer training and equipment, what constitutes a crime and how to differentiate between “reasonable suspicion” and “probable cause.”

Attendees will watch police K-9s in action, learn about the Special Weapons and Tactics Team and see how a crime scene is handled and incriminating evidence is collected. Participants will learn the “Shoot/Don’t Shoot” methodology, the use of firearms and Tasers and what it is like to be an inmate behind bars. One Saturday will be set aside for a tour of the county jail and evidence section along with a demonstration of officer firearms training at the firearms range of the main sheriff’s office in East Milton.

This academy will be 6-8:45 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 21 through April 25 at St. Sylvester Catholic Church, 6464 Gulf Breeze Parkway, Gulf Breeze. It is free and open to residents 18 and older. To register, go to www.santarosasheriff.org, click on “Services and Programs,” go to the Citizens Law Enforcement Academy article and complete the application. Forms also will be available at St. Sylvester Catholic Church. For questions, call 983-1236.