MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – After recent violence in Myrtle Beach, a police department training program could increase transparency between the public and law enforcement.
The department is officially accepting applications for the Citizens Training Academy, a ten-week program that gives a behind-the-scenes look at the work of officers in the city.
Anyone can take part in the academy and don’t necessarily have to be interested in a career in law enforcement.
Sergeant Bryan Murphy, in charge of the program, said he hopes the program not only teaches people skills they can apply in their own lives but that it helps them develop a better understanding and respect of what officers go through.
“I’ve got a man with a shotgun, send more units! Drop that weapon! Drop that weapon,” Murphy yells out in one of the training rooms used for the training academy.
Different virtual scenarios and videos mimic what officers could go through on a daily basis.
People who go through the academy will experience this first-hand.
“Well, you got the top of the target there, shoot a little lower,” he told a News13 intern who participated in an active shooter scenario.
“The more involvement we can have with the community, the more they can see us in real- time, live situations, I think the better off we are,” Murphy said.
After recent shootings in the area, city officials say it’s as important as ever to have more open communication.
“Law enforcement has been in the spotlight, and not necessarily in a good way in some instances,” said City of Myrtle Beach spokesperson Mark Kruea.
“And yet the Myrtle Beach Police Department does a great job. So if you’re curious about what it means to be a police officer, this is the opportunity to see it from behind the scenes.”
Each time the academy is held, the department updates its trainings and exercises to fit current technology.
For example, funding for a real-time crime unit was recently approved in the city’s budget.
“We’ll add some segments on that and give an update as to what our department is doing and how we’re better serving our community,” Sgt. Murphy said.
During one exercise, participants watch an active shooter situation and decide how they would react.
“People want to talk about how they would have reacted in this situation,” Sgt. Murphy said.
“But until you’re actually in the situation you don’t know how you would react.”
The idea of the academy is not to recruit people, but rather have them use their skills in their own communities–like participating in neighborhood watches and helping out at community events.
Applications must be received by 5:00 p.m., Monday July 31. Classes start Monday September 11.
Topics include crime scene investigation, K-9 units, emergency vehicle operations and simulated firearms training.
Class members also ride along with MBPD officers.
The class meets at 7:00 p.m. every Monday for ten weeks.
Applicants must be residents of Horry County and at least 21 years old.
A valid driver’s license is required, along with criminal history check and driver’s license background check.
Once accepted, class members must attend at least eight of the ten sessions to graduate.
Applications are available at www.cityofmyrtlebeach.com/cpa.html or in-person at the Ted C. Collins Law Enforcement on Oak Street or the Law Enforcement Center Annex on Mustang Street.