The Missoula Police Department has hosted a Citizens' Law Enforcement Academy since 1993 and the 2020 session will begin tonight. It will be held on Wednesday evenings from approximately 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and will run for 8 weeks. Missoula Police Public Information Officer Travis Welsh explains.

“It is an opportunity for the public to come in and see the inner workings of the police department,” Welsh said. “We cover administration, patrol and detective operations, special teams, crime prevention, and things that people have an interest in and want to see and hear about. We have some very talented speakers that are going to present this information and we are excited to begin again.”

According to Welsh, most people don’t typically understand how police operations work or the strategies behind some of their tactics and techniques.

“They don’t typically get the chance to see the inner workings of the police department, how the department is made up, how our resources are distributed, that sort of thing,” Welsh said. “It has been a very popular program. People seem to enjoy it. The presenters enjoy the interactions with the participants. They enjoy taking their questions and broadening their communications with members of the community.”

Welsh says they typically only accept 35 to 40 applicants each session. This year, they received more applications than they have spots open. He says they limit the number of people because there is so much material that needs to be covered.

“We want to make sure that the people who are in attendance have a chance to see things up close and get a good look or be able to listen, hear, and ask questions if they want to,” Welsh said. “Sometimes those things are difficult when you have a large group of people. We try to keep it manageable and we try to make sure that everybody in attendance gets the maximum fulfillment out of the program that they can.”

Welsh hopes this program will continue so they can share this information with as many people as possible.