Vail police ‘academy’ expands its scope |

Vail police ‘academy’ expands its scope

Scott N. Miller
Special to the DailyStudents at an earlier Vail Citizens Police Academy find the target at the firing range in Gypsum.

VAIL – Frank D’Alessio wants you.D’Alessio is the Vail Police Department’s most ardent volunteer and supporter, and is now director of the department’s Citizens’ Police Academy. The academy, an eight-session course taught by various town police officers, offers a chance to learn how cops are trained, how crime scenes are investigated and other ins and outs of law enforcement in a resort town.The academy starting in October will be the fourth run by the department. There will be some fresh items in the curriculum, including time at the firing range and driving instruction in a fully police-equipped Ford Explorer.”The driving session lets people see how we drive and can make them better drivers,” Vail Police Commander Joe Russell said.

Time at the firing range is instructive, too.”I’d never fired a weapon in my life,” Vail resident Michelle Hall said. “It’s amazing the power (guns) have and the control they need to use them.”Participants get a chance to fire the officers’ standard-issue pistols as well as the machine gun used by special operations officers.”My aim was the best with that one, which was pretty wild,” Hall said.Some of the participants in the academy have gone on to join the department’s volunteer corps, an organization that was honored earlier this year with the President’s Volunteer Service Award. Those volunteers help with clerical work, cataloging evidence and crowd control. The group, founded by D’Alessio, has a small office and library in police headquarters.The volunteers have taken classes through the academy, but only a few who complete the class go on to volunteer with the department. To encourage more participation, D’Alessio said the academy will this year start an “alumni association” to work on continuing education among those who have taken the course, as well as to gauge what’s working and what should be added to the classes.

The big addition to this year’s academy is a day of emergency medical technician training hosted by Ryan Sutter of the Vail Fire Department.That training goes along with a longer-term goal. The academy recently submitted a grant application for several thousand dollars’ worth of safety equipment including automated external defibrillators, Russell said. If the money comes through, the academy will be a way to train people to use that equipment. Even without equipment, though, academy participants this fall will learn the basics of CPR and the Heimlich maneuver.”We want to be not only teaching citizens what it’s like to be a police officers, but introducing life-saving techniques,” D’Alessio said. “We could end up with life savers on every block in town. It benefits everybody.”The academy is funded through the police department, Russell said, but instructors are already on-duty or off-duty volunteers, so there’s a minimum of money spent to put on the class.”A lot of people think it’s entertaining to see what it’s all about,” D’Alessio said. “But we want (the academy) to stand tall. We want people to see we’re doing things in the community.”

=================Back to schoolWhat: Vail Citizens’ Police Academy.Where: Classes meet at the Vail Town Council room.When: Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. from Oct. 14 through Nov. 18; and two Saturdays, Oct. 30 and Nov. 13.Why: So residents can learn more about what cops in Vail do.

What’s new: Lessons in CPR, as well as instruction in how to work an automated external defibrillator.Cost: Free.For more information: Call Vail Police Commander Joe Russell, 479-2329.=====================Vail, Colorado

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