By Jon Schroeder
The Cove Herald
Watch out, criminals.
The Copperas Cove Citizens Police Academy, ending its 21st session, graduated 17 students on Tuesday in a ceremony at the Grace United Methodist Church in Cove.
This session was a unique one, Lt. Danny Austin of the Copperas Cove Police Department said during the ceremony: this year was the first which included a city manager or fire chief — Killeen Fire Chief Jerry Gardner and his wife, Copperas Cove City Manager Andrea Gardner, both completed the course.
Also graduating were Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce executive staff members Marty Smith, Betty Price, Charlotte Kanzenbach, Klaudia Brand and Nadia Owens. Several other members of the class were spouses of current members of the police force.
The remainder of the class was: Robert Hill, Thomas Jost, Sarah Kindler, Yun Kostner, Jane Lightfoot, Irmi Mace, Arnold Ochoa, Jr., Sonja Reynolds, Michael Sherman and Annemarie O’Daniel.
Those present, including many members of the Copperas Cove Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association, representatives of the Citizens Fire and Public Safety Volunteers, academy graduates and Copperas Cove Mayor Roger O’Dwyer, Copperas Cove Deputy Chief Mike Heintzelman, spoke about the benefits both of having a citizens police academy and the link it provides between residents of Copperas Cove and its police force.
“The only time you normally see a police officer is when you’re in trouble,” said long-time Alumni Association member Chuck Holley, calling all of Copperas Cove’s first responders a “super group.”
He and other members of the association, which only graduates of the Citizens Police Academy can join, help out the police force in many ways, including officer training — Holley himself has helped with dispatcher training and has played the role of an angry citizen in the training of Cove’s four newest police officers in conducting traffic stops.
But there is much more that the alumni association does, from handling extensive police paperwork to to fingerprinting kids to helping out with events in Copperas Cove, including bike races, Krist Kindl Markt, Night Out and various health fairs, among others.
O’Dwyer, speaking at the end of the grauation ceremony, said since the 1960s the relationships in general between police forces and communities have cooled.
“The Citizens Police Academy and Alumni Association kind of gets us back into a family-type (relationship),” O’Dwyer said. “I laud all of you who have gone through it.”
And while the 62-member alumni association may be picking up a few new members from the graduating class, class members said they’re already happy with their experiences.
“This has been so much fun I don’t believe it,” Smith said. Pointing to police officers in the room, she added, “What’s good about this is getting to know each one of you.”
Contact Jon Schroeder at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7475