Citizens Police Academy graduates 25 citizens

“It doesn’t end here,” says Chief Murrin

by Melanie Jongsma

LANSING, Ill. (March 21, 2018) – This Wednesday evening, the classroom at the Lansing Police Department will be empty. The students who have been gathering there for the past nine weeks have now finished the Citizens Police Academy. They graduated on March 14 in a ceremony complete with certificates and graduation cake.

Chief Dennis Murrin (left) and Deputy Chief Pete Grutzius thanked the class and encouraged them to continue to be involved in Lansing. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
At their final meeting, Lansing Police Chief Dennis Murrin addressed the graduates and thanked them for attending. He affirmed the purpose of the course that had been set out on January 17 at the first class—to build relationships between police and community, so that we can all have a community we’re proud of. Murrin said, “It doesn’t end here. Make sure you bring what you’ve learned with you.” He encouraged the group to let friends and neighbors know about the class, as one way to keep the momentum going. And Deputy Chief Grutzius reminded the class that Neighborhood Watch is another way to stay involved.

A new level

This was the first time Lt. Scott Bailey had taught the Citizens Police Academy, and Murrin congratulated him for “taking it to a new level” with the help of Sgt. Gabe Barajas. Class members responded with enthusiastic applause.

“This is definitely not the end of how we communicate with each other,” said Bailey. Class members had received phone numbers and email addresses not only from Bailey and Barajas, but also from other members of the force who led different portions of the class. Bailey invited the group to “please use them if you ever come up with something we can help you out with.”

New friendships

“I really enjoyed it,” said Eugene Batts, who attended the class with his daughter Alline. He appreciated the variety of topics and the accessibility of the teachers, specifically mentioning Cook County State’s Attorney Nick DeAngelo, who taught the class on February 28. “Any kind of question we threw at him, he could answer,” said Batts, “and you all did a good job as well.”

Eugene Batts snaps a commemorative photo of his daughter Alline with instructors Sgt. Gabe Barajas (left) and Lt. Scott Bailey on graduation day. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Marilyn Freeman jokes with the audience as Lt. Scott Bailey awards her graduation certificate. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Marilyn Freeman expressed appreciation for the fun and friendship she experienced with fellow classmates as well as the officers. “I enjoyed meeting everyone,” she said, recalling in particular the class about speeding tickets led by Officer Dana Tatgenhorst. “I gave him the lowest score on my class evaluation,” she quipped.

Cake, coffee, and certificates

The class spent some time mingling over cake and coffee in the police department atrium before returning to the courtroom to officially receive their certificates.

Throughout the course, Lt. Bailey made sure there were refreshments available for each two-and-a-half-hour class. On graduation night, refreshments included a chocolate and yellow graduation cake. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Friends and family were invited to attend the last class. Berenise Villagrana (center) and her family enjoyed the festivities and refreshments together. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Citizens Police Academy, Class of 2018

Not everyone paused for a photograph, but below are many of the 25 citizens who completed the classes and received a certificate.

Dawn Bailey‘s name was the first one called. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Alline Batts plans to pursue a Criminal Justice degree and found the class to be a good introduction. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Eugene Batts sat in on the class because he was transporting his daughter each night. He ended up getting engrossed in the discussions, and Lt. Bailey ended up considering him a member of the class. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
In spite of his alternating work schedule, Richard Bischof was able to attend most of the classes and earn his certificate. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Jim and Chris Byrne attended the Academy together. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Doug Cable enjoys learning about Lansing. He participated in a Local History class offered by Jeff White last year, and this year the Citizens Police Academy gave him another opportunity to meet new people and learn new things. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Janice Flowers proudly accepts her certificate. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
“I just came for general knowledge,” said Marilyn Freeman at the first class, on January 17. But she left with new friends and an opportunity to get face-to-face answers about a hypothetical speeding ticket. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Tammy Holdeman has always appreciated the Lansing Police Department, but the class gave her a more specific understanding of the services they provide. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Suzanne Mitchell doesn’t live in Lansing, but she works at TF South, so she found the academy helpful. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Ruth and Scott Sonnenberg enjoy being involved in their community. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Bonnie Trepton enjoyed the class. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Graduating from Citizens Police Academy does not earn a badge, only a certificate. But Carol VanDrunen’s friends and family are still very proud of her new status. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Berenise Villagrana’s proudly accepts her certificate from Lt. Bailey. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Veteran Bobb Wright now has another accomplishment to add to his list of community-building credentials. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Graduates not pictured include:

  • Christine Billstrand
  • Richard Braze
  • Bill and Kathleen Corbett
  • Dolphin Harris
  • Hugutte Johnson
  • Armani Williams

Next class

The Lansing Police Department typically plans at least one Citizens Police Academy each year, possibly more if interest is high and staff are available. Classes meet at the Lansing Police Department, 2710 170th Street in Lansing. Contact Lt. Scott Bailey for more information or to be notified about the next Citizens Police Academy:

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