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Katy PD leads first-ever Citizen’s Police Academy

September 30, 2018

Two police officers are running down a hallway nearing a room where a man is allegedly being held hostage by a suspect who is said be holding a gun.

On arrival, the suspect begins shouting, telling the officers he’s going to kill the man. It only takes a second before a silver handgun is out of his pocket and pointed at the man.

“What do I do? What do I do?” one “officer” shouts, while another tells her to shoot at the suspect, who’s fiercely gripping the gun.

The scenario is not real. It’s part of the city of Katy Police Department’s first-ever Citizen’s Police Academy, and this class involves students using a firearms training simulator to make “split-second decisions” on whether to use deadly force or de-escalation tactics.

Katy Police Sgt. Jack Feild, who is the lead instructor of the academy and has been with the department for 28 years, said the citizen’s academy is an opportunity for the community to get an inside look at how the police department operates, with classes that involve crime scene investigation, K-9 unit interaction and the proper instruction on use of force.

“The training is very important,” Feild said. “The whole purpose of this citizen’s academy for us it to let our citizens know this is what we do and how we do it. When somebody sees an officer out there writing a ticket, he’s not out there just writing a ticket to get the city money because that’s not how it works, we’re out there to get that person to slow down.”

During the “Shoot, Don’t Shoot” class, which took place at the Katy ISD’s Miller Career & Technology Center near Martha Raines High School, police academy students, who ranged in age from 20 to 60 years old, were placed in on-camera scenarios involving hostage situations, traffic stops and active shooters. Other times, the scenarios involved a rowdy person holding a cellphone.

Students are instructed to hold a plastic Glock-like gun and aim it at the screen. They can also give verbal commands if necessary.

“If you point a gun at somebody, you better be ready to go ahead and pop it right off,” Feild told the students. “Because if you hesitate, it’s going to cost you a lot.”

At times, the students were able to successfully deescalate the situation, but other times students shot suspects before they had drawn any type of weapon.

Robert Nugent, who’s lived Katy for eight years, said he joined the police academy as a way to show support for the Katy PD.

“The community doesn’t understand the danger,” Nugent said. “What you saw tonight is very real. You can see how risky it is.”

Stacy Painter said being apart of the class was a way for her to be involved in the community and to show she respects the badge.

“I wanted to put myself in their shoes in a safe manner to see what they’re going on,” Painter said. “And then from there, volunteer with the police department if they need filing, you know that type of thing.”

Feild said the Laser Shot technology, which ranges in price from $20,000 to $150,000, is a great investment for law enforcement agencies to use as training tool, but “unfortunately not in the city’s budget” at this time.

The Citizen’s Police Academy runs until Oct. 18, when the current class will graduate. The Katy PD is making preparations for its next class but no date has been finalized, Feild said.

michelle.iracheta@chron.com

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