Basalt gives citizens a chance to play a cop |

Basalt gives citizens a chance to play a cop

The Basalt Police Department wants residents to know what kind of mental and physical challenges an officer can experience while placing a suspect under arrest and into handcuffs.

They also will offer the opportunity for an average Joe or Jill to experience the multitasking required while approaching a driver on a traffic stop while also listening to radio traffic from a dispatcher.

The opportunities will be presented during a 2015 Community Police Academy. A Spanish-language class starts today. An English version starts Wednesday. The academy is free and will be held five consecutive weeks through Oct. 21. The last session will be combined and provide an opportunity to fire police-issue handguns and assault rifles at the Lake Christine Shooting Range on Oct. 31.

Sgt. Joe Gasper said community academies are held by police departments around the country to give residents a better feel for why cops do what they do on the job and to open a dialogue between citizens and officers.

Gasper said the academy will be very hands-on, with many outdoor sessions. They will get to play the role of an officer making a traffic stop and learn why an officer approaches the stopped vehicle in a certain way. They will learn about how officers go about trying to determine if a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

“We’d kind of put them behind the driver’s wheel,” Gasper said.

Participants will learn the difficulty of pulling fingerprints out of a crime scene. It doesn’t quite work like on the “CSI” TV shows, he said.

Another session will focus on defensive tactics and making an arrest.

“We’ll let them have a hand at trying to handcuff somebody,” Gasper said. They will learn the difficulty in cuffing somebody, even if they are compliant though not necessarily cooperative. They also will be presented with the challenge of a noncompliant suspect.

“This is what we do, but we want you to try it and give us your feedback,” Gasper said.

Participants will have the chance to talk to officers one on one and in roundtable discussion. Gasper said he hopes attendees will raise questions about officer shootings that have dominated the news at times over the past year.

The Community Police Academy is open to all midvalley residents, not just people living in Basalt. The sessions will be held in Basalt in evenings on Mondays for the Spanish version and Wednesdays for the English version. The final session at the shooting range will be held at 9 a.m. Oct. 31. No one arrested for overt, violent crimes will be accepted. There is a simple application for participants.

Call the Basalt Police Department at 970-927-4316 to join or email

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