BEND, OR -- The Deschutes County Sheriff’s office will bring back its Citizens' Academy, beginning in February. Sheriff Shane Nelson announced plans to revive the program a day after Sheriff candidate Deputy Eric Kozowski listed the academy's discontinuation as an example of the agency’s poor community outreach.
Read more about reforms for the agency proposed by Dep. Kozowski.
Sheriff Nelson tells KBND News the program was on hiatus and he had always planned to bring it back. "We had received some evaluations that led us to want to revamp some of the schedule and some of the training we were giving; there was a lot of overlapping information. So, we took a break from it." Sheriff Nelson says he had hoped to restart it last year, but internal investigations took priority.
The Citizens' Academy is a free 10-week course designed to give attendees an in-depth look at the various divisions and functions of the Sheriff’s Office. "That’s a very important piece of our outreach; it never went away, it was on break," says Sheriff Nelson. "I think it’s important that you always reevaluate those programs and make sure they’re the best that they can be. As a matter of fact, we had talked about trying to bring it back when Sheriff Larry Blanton was here; it just did not work out, timing-wise."
Applications can be picked up at the main Sheriff's Office on Highway 20 in Bend for the Citizens' Academy class that begins February first and runs Wednesday evenings through April 5. Registration deadline is October 15. Contact the Training Unit with questions: 541-388-6655.
Deputy Kozowski has also talked about creating a Citizens Advisory Committee. Sheriff Nelson says his opponent’s ideas are not new. "We’ve been talking about bringing back our Citizens Advisory Panel for over a year, now. We had one 10 years ago that helped us with our Blue Ribbon Stable Funding Committee; we had one when Sheriff Brown was here that helped us with community input. Not to mention, we always have a Citizen Advisory Panel in the nearly 400 volunteers we have; we have people that come in and volunteer their time."