JACKSONVILLE BEACH -- Sgt. Steve Corbitt stands behind a podium
in a small, white room decorated with freshly hung signs that
say "compassion," "integrity," "initiative" and
"I think that we succeeded. I know that we did," he says to the
class in front of him. They immediately applaud.
Corbitt is the head of a program in Jacksonville Beach called
the Citizen Police Academy, which had its first of eight
meetings Aug. 6.
The point of the academy, he said, is to allow "citizens of the
community to come into the police department to learn who we are
and what we do." Another goal is to give citizens the
opportunity to see firsthand that the department is trying its
hardest to work under the code spelled out by those signs on the
The academy covers the organization and undertakings of the
police department in depth, and provides participants with,
among other things, information on K-9 squads, community
patrolling and radar usage. They are also allowed to ride
The program is a large part of an effort to bring citizens of
the community closer to the officials and officers who help run
The idea was to "open the door and let the community see every
aspect of our department," Corbitt said. "Do it top-notch or
don't do it at all," he said of the program's goals.
The academy was the idea of Police Chief Bruce Thomason, to
show city residents that the police department cares about the
work its members do. He also said that he wanted the program to
help clear up many common misconceptions that citizens have
about police work.
On Sept. 24, the first class, consisting of 23 …