Lt. Scott Erickson teaches a class on use of force policy to a group of Juneau residents during the Juneau Police Department’s Citizen’s Academy on Nov. 4, 2021. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Lt. Scott Erickson teaches a class on use of force policy to a group of Juneau residents during the Juneau Police Department’s Citizen’s Academy on Nov. 4, 2021. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Juneau residents get look at policing with Citizen’s Academy

A handful of Juneau residents are getting up close and learning some of the fine details of the job.

Many people might go their entire lives without interacting with the police of their town besides speeding tickets or bumping elbows at the supermarket.

For about a dozen Juneau residents, though, the Juneau Police Department is offering a closer look over an eight-week course.

“It’s a good opportunity for us to connect. Our mission statement is to build partnerships,” said Lt. Scott Erickson, who oversaw the course. “Our youngest (participant) was 18 years old. I think he’s interested because he has a desire to pursue a career in law enforcement. A couple of folks are a lot older and I think they’re interested in learning how their community works.”

[Remains of missing man located off Flume Trail]

The eight-week course covers topics from policies to special unit functions to things like how everyday patrolling works, Erickson said.

“Some of them are interested in how the laws work,” Erickson said. “When we did a search and seizure class a few weeks back, a lot of them were interested.”

The students seem to be generally enjoying the class, Erickson said.

“I’ve been really liking it. I’m learning a lot,” said Justin Gunderson, who was taking part in the class. “I wanted to learn more and show support for the police officers.”

For others, this class is a first step toward a possible future career in law enforcement.

Lt. Scott Erickson answers a question use of force policy as he instructs a group of Juneau residents during the Juneau Police Department’s Citizen’s Academy on Nov. 4, 2021. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Lt. Scott Erickson answers a question use of force policy as he instructs a group of Juneau residents during the Juneau Police Department’s Citizen’s Academy on Nov. 4, 2021. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

“I love it,” said Arnold Haube. “It’s been a dream of mine of being a police officer for a couple of years.”

Both students said that they’d enjoyed learning more about the policies and decision-making processes that police deal with every day.

“Just how each decision is thought out. They really think about how they take certain actions,” Gunderson said. “I really appreciate that they held this course. I’d recommend it to any citizen of Juneau.”

The course is also a way for police to interact with citizens in a relaxed and non-formal setting, Erickson said.

“It’s good for getting an outside perspective,” Erickson said. “It’s easy for us to to sit in here and think ‘that’s how everything is.’ A lot of times that’s not the case.”

JPD will likely arrange another Citizen’s Academy in the new year, Erickson said. The department is also restarting a cadet program that was last functional in the ‘90s, said Chief Ed Mercer. The cadet program, like Capital City Fire/Rescue’s own recently restarted cadet program, would allow youth to learn more about being a police officer and provide a pathway into entering service with the JPD.

“This is something I really feel that’s valuable for the community and the police,” Mercer said in an interview. “Our hope is to be as transparent as we possibly can, show why we do what we do, what our capabilities are.”

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

More in News

(Juneau Empire file photo)
Aurora forecast for the week of Feb. 26

These forecasts are courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute… Continue reading

Liana Wallace offers a water blessing during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Augustus G. Brown Swimming Pool on Friday following nearly a year of renovations. The pool is scheduled to reopen for public use on Tuesday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Ribbon-cutting for Augustus G. Brown Swimming Pool a blessing for longtime users after 11-month renovation

Infrastructure upgrades, new locker rooms and student tile art in lobby greet visitors at ceremony.

The Alaska State Capitol in Juneau is seen on Friday, Feb. 23. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska Legislature plans March 12 vote on Gov. Dunleavy’s executive orders

Order giving governor full control of Alaska Marine Highway Operations board among six scheduled.

Brenda Josephson, a Haines resident, testifies in favor of a bill setting statewide standards for municipal property assessors during a state Senate Community and Regional Affairs Committee hearing Thursday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Statewide standards for municipal property assessments sought in bill by Juneau lawmaker

Some residents say legislation doesn’t go far enough, want limits on annual valuation increases.

The front page of the Juneau Empire on Feb. 26, 2004. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Empire Archives: Juneau’s history for the week of March 2

Three decades of capital city coverage.

Rep. Ben Carpenter, R-Nikiski, speaks Thursday, April 27, 2023, at a news conference in Juneau. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska House considers constitutional guarantee for Permanent Fund dividend

The Alaska House of Representatives will vote as soon as Friday morning… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Alexei Painter, director of Alaska’s Legislative Finance Division, presents an update of the state’s budget situation for the coming year to the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Analysis: Balanced state budget next year can include a $1,535 PFD and $680 BSA increase

However, a “statutory” $3,688 PFD would result in a deficit of more than $1.2 billion, report says.

Most Read