“The reality is the true and tested methods that solve crimes hasn’t really changed in the past 50 years,” Aloy said. “We’re still using fingerprint dust, tape, old technology that still works.”

.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; }

MILTON — For Santa Rosa County residents at least 18 years old who are interested in law enforcement work, those who support law enforcement or those critical of various agencies, the Santa Rosa Sheriff's Office offers the Citizens Law Enforcement Academy.

The 11-week course runs 6 to 9 p.m. every other Thursday starting Nov. 2 and is free to participate in, with limited seating.

Among topics the academy will cover are the basics of patrol, crime scene, crime analysis and dispatch, K9 training, traffic, major crimes, Special Weapons and Tactics Team, firearms, self defense, Shoot Don’t Shoot, narcotics, media, and there’s a jail tour.

The academy has existed over 20 years and changes as technology improves, according to SRSO Public Information Officer Rich Aloy. Part of the course’s purpose is to separate fact from what television and movies depict.

“The reality is the true and tested methods that solve crimes hasn’t really changed in the past 50 years,” Aloy said. “We’re still using fingerprint dust, tape, old technology that still works.”

The Shoot Don’t Shoot course features a simulator where course attendees will face a criminal in a realistic situation while wearing a full gun belt. Meanwhile, the instructor controls how the criminal responds.

“If you don’t give verbal commands, he may be more aggressive to you,” Aloy said. “I’ve done it. Your palms get sweaty. It’s really realistic. I’ve seen people who’ve never held a gun in their hand make decisions and thought, ‘Wow, you should be a cop.’ People that are skeptical need to do it.”

The narcotics course lets attendees see real drugs.

“Parents love that. It’s especially for people that don’t know what meth looks like, crack, ice,” Aloy said. “We don’t give out samples, but we show it to you.”

Aloy says attendees can ask about anything they want, like the public perception of law enforcement and how sheriff's deputies protect civilians during time of civil unrest, also called the "thin blue line."

“The protection of the thin blue line means we all do the same job but you have to do it with honor and integrity,” Aloy said, “but the day you cross that line and you do something wrong you become a criminal.”

Pointing at the jail he said, “There’s nothing saying you can’t put a cop back there. We’ve done it.”

Aloy encourages everyone to attend.

“We don’t want just people that want to be cops to come here,” he said. “We want someone who’s skeptical of law enforcement to come, someone that maybe has negative interactions with law enforcement … We’re everybody’s law enforcement so we want everyone to see how we work. We have nothing to hide.”

Those who are interested can visit santarosasheriff.org to apply.