By Victor O'Brien
Killeen Daily Herald
A bad experience with one off-duty officer in December damaged Patricia Freeman's perception of the Killeen Police Department. Five months later, KPD restored her perception.
Twenty-five people, including Freeman, graduated from KPD's 26th Citizens Police Academy at the Shilo Inn Monday night.
Freeman was waiting outside the downtown HOP transfer station a block from KPD headquarters in December. Without noticing, she dropped her coin purse with irreplaceable rings inside. Someone waiting snatched her purse and escaped on the bus.
Freeman raced to a KPD officer in a parking lot for help. The officer told her he was off-duty and she needed to file a report at the station. She knew in the time it would take to file a report, the purse thief would escape.
Since the theft, Freeman had resentment toward KPD officers. Her perception changed gradually through a 12-week CPA course where she witnessed first-hand the stress and struggles officers encounter.
"It changed my whole outlook. I didn't realize how hard their job really is," Freeman said. "I do see the big difference they are making."
Paul Strickland's wife, Dyvonuettea, completed the course last fall and inspired him to take the course. By the time he finished his ride-along in April, she wished she could take the course again.
"(I saw) a little bit of everything: prostitution, drugs, gangs and juvenile delinquents," Strickland said. "It was an adrenaline kick."
The course delivers eye-opening education about the numerous gangs with Killeen-area ties.
"I didn't realize there were so many here. I didn't realize there was this problem until I took this class," Kenneth Murray said.
The most lasting impression Murray took from the course will be at his home. He learned that a parked car in a driveway is an effective burglary deterrent. Murray also learned if someone knocks on his door, he should let them know he is home because they may think he's not and try to break in.
"I'll be keeping my ears and eyes open and give officers a call if I need them," he said.
For more information on joining the August class of the Citizen's Police Academy, call Tammy Moseley at 501-8805.
Contact Victor O'Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7468.