MIDLOTHIAN – Alumni from the Midlothian Police Department’s Citizens Police Academy met Thursday, Jan. 17 to begin forming their own alumni group to support local law enforcement.

Local residents were joined by Citizens Police Academy Alumni of North Texas (CPAANT) Director Pat Weaver, who explained how CPAANT could equip alumni to better support their local police department.

Weaver said CPAANT members take turns hosting a monthly meeting when alumni spend two hours learning from officers, other alumni, lawyers, FBI agents and others how to better aid their local law enforcement. In addition, CPAANT members organize an annual convention when all of the alumni groups throughout the state come together. The next convention will be Wednesday, July 24–27 at the Sheraton Hotel in Arlington, 1800 Convention Center Drive.

Midlothian Police Chief Carl Smith said there are immediate opportunities for citizens to aid the department.

“We need someone at the front desk to assist citizens when they walk into the PD and want to bail someone out of jail or make an open records request,” Smith said.

And the need is great as Smith explained that Midlothian will have 50 officers by 2015, but at the moment only has four officers at a time on patrol to cover the 51 square miles of incorporated area as well as the 120 square miles of area within the school district boundary.

“Our crime watch program is dead. If we could get someone citizens to just in their car and patrol a neighborhood or be another set of watchful, trained eyes, we could cut crime in these outlying neighborhoods,” he said. “We have 11 BOVs (burglary of a vehicle) in a neighborhood recently. Someone was going along checking car doors that were unlocked. If we’d had an extra set of eyes to see that person acting suspicious we could have stopped those thefts.”

Smith talked about his past at the DeSoto Police Department to explain the significant role CPA alumni could play in aiding the department.

“My first introduction to Citizens Police Academy was in 1991 as a juvenile investigations officer. They quickly became an integral part of the department and in 1998 to 1999 we voted on a bond for a facility,” he said, noting that the 50-plus personnel could no longer fit in the small building. “The alumni called citizens to get them out to vote in support of the bond. They actually gave two cents and understood what the needs and goals of the department were. The facility that DeSoto has today wouldn’t be there without those alumni.”

Training Coordinator Billy Seals said the department will host its ninth CPA session from 6-9 p.m. April 2–June 11. The deadline to sign up for the session is Jan. 25 and applications can be found online at www.midlothian.tx.us by navigating to “Departments” then to “Police Department” and finally “Citizens Police Academy.” On the CPA webpage, local residents can find more information about the program and download the application to be returned by mail or in person to the police department.

The department also has a Citizens Emergency Response Team (CERT) training session planned with the Best Southwest group. The training will take place Feb. 9 and 16 with another session planned for April. More information and the application for CERT can also be found under “Police Department” on the “Citizens Emergency Response Team” webpage.

For more information about CPA or CERT, contact Billy Seals at 972-775-7611.

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