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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Bartlett Police are giving citizens a hands-on look at how their officers operate in the field and, they hope, a new respect for the badge.

Fourteen people are taking part in the fall Citizens Police Academy. It’s one of several the department offers to adults and kids throughout the year.

“We want to give them an inside look at what we do day to day,” said Lt. Todd Halford, who runs the program. “Instead of getting their information about what the police department does from ‘CSI Miami’ and ‘Law & Order’, we actually give them a hands-on look on how it actually is.”

The academy meets once a week for seven weeks. The focus Thursday was on the department SWAT team.

Participants got to sit in their armored vehicle, handle their weapons and practice some of their tactics.

“We have a field day on a Saturday, and the field day we take them to the Shelby County Driving Track, and we let them drive the pursuit course in our squad cars, and we take them to the firing range, and we let them shoot our weapons,” said Halford.

Bartlett Police said while the academy is all about educating the public and building bridges in the community, they have also gained some future recruits from the program.

“I have several that were in the earlier classes that are now police officers with us,” said Halford.

The Bartlett Police Department also offers a class for area clergymen. The Citizens Police Academy is free, but Halford said it has become so popular there is usually a waiting list.

“They do fill up quickly. Before COVID, we had a year waiting list,” Halford said.

For more information on how you can apply click right here.