The Sherman Police Department hosted a graduation ceremony Thursday night in honor of the nine students who successfully completed the department’s Citizen’s Police Academy, a program designed to educate members of the public on the inner workings of their local law enforcement.


The celebration was held at Sherman City Hall and was attended by department officers, as well as the friends and family of the graduates. The nine-week course of evening classes did not provide participants with any law enforcement certifications, but they did shed light on different topics, including department policies, state laws, traffic stops, use of force, investigative techniques and the collection of forensic evidence.


“It’s like an extended open house that gets down to the nuts and bolts of what we have to learn, what we do, and how we operate as a department,” Sgt. D.M. Hampton said.


The Sherman Police Department opened the Citizen’s Police Academy earlier this year and saw its first class graduate in the spring. Hampton said the program is generally reserved for men and women who are least 18 years old and live, work or attend school within the city limits.


City of Sherman information technology employee Jenny Knight said she enrolled in the program to become more knowledgeable about the work that Sherman PD officers do every day.


“I do interact with the police department on a daily basis, supporting them, but I work the help desk and answer phones mostly,” Knight said. “So I thought it would be a great chance to get out of the office, meet some of my city co-workers at the police department and learn a little about all their jobs.”


Knight said she enjoyed all of the different topics the academy touched on, but that she particularly appreciated learning about how and when officers are allowed to use physical and deadly force against an individual.


“There’s a lot of emphasis on communication and de-escalation, as opposed to using force,” she said. “And I think, at least for me, that was really good to see given everything that’s on the news and in the media about it.”


Hampton said the program, though only in its first years, has already led some graduates to seriously consider a career in law enforcement.


“We’ve actually had a couple of people who graduated — one tonight and one from the first class — who are actually going to be taking our civil service exam,” Hampton said. “It’s a good thing for anyone who may be interested in checking us out and potentially getting hired on with the department.”


Knight said she didn’t plan to give up her IT career, but as a graduate of the academy, she would have much more to think about the next time an officer passed by in his or her patrol car.


“I’ll definitely look at their job a lot differently now,” Knight said. “You know, the next time I see an officer when I’m out, I probably will stop and think about what patrol they’re running or what kind of call they’re going to.”