Notes from the Fox Den: RPD’s Citizen’s Police Academy is worth it

by Josie Fox

Hello and welcome to the Fox Den! It has been a while since I have written, so I hope everyone has been doing well and that 2019 has been kind to you so far.

February is ending on a bittersweet note for me. For the last eight weeks, I have been participating in the first ever Rusk Citizens Police Academy, organized by the Rusk Police Department.

I have to admit, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I signed up for the class, and when I saw that it would last three hours every Tuesday night, I was more than a little apprehensive.

What I wasn’t expecting was how quickly those three hours would pass and how much I would begin to look forward to our Tuesday night class.

After the very first night, I knew that I had made the right decision in applying.

The first couple of weeks, our classes consisted of a lot of procedures, policies and law based education, but our instructor, Rusk Police Chief Joe Williams, incorporated real life examples and humor into the material, making the information easier to follow and retain.

By week two we were all impressed with the fact that our Chief had a great sense of humor and could actually smile on occasion.

Beginning in week five, the hands-on portion of our training began. I actually feel a tiny bit sorry for the Chief and his officers, because we were all excited for the hands-on training and our enthusiasm showed.

I’m not entirely able to explain why, but our instruction on TAZER use ranks pretty high on the list of things I was most excited about, even though we only shot at a cardboard target. If you hear any of us yell “TAZER, TAZER, TAZER,” don’t worry, we don’t really have a TAZER, it’s more like a team motto.
One of the other high points of my training included the opportunity to drive one of the police cars or SUVs around the parking lot at the First Baptist Church in Rusk, with the accompaniment of a uniformed officer.

It was flashing lights and sirens blazing when it was my turn to take a car for a spin.

During the final weeks, the class participated in multiple simulations that included high risk traffic stops, field sobriety tests, crime scene investigations, drug testing and active shooter.

Although we had fun with these simulations, there was a definitive, underlying sense of seriousness to each scenario as we all realized these were situations our officers face on a daily basis.

On Saturday, Feb. 16, the class met at the Jacksonville Police Department’s gun range and those wishing to participate were able to shoot an array of weapons, under the supervision of the Chief and several officers. (Unfortunately I missed this exercise as I was moving from Nacogdoches to the new Fox Den in Rusk.) The top three marksmen, or should I say markswomen, were Bridgett Tosh, Jaleea Dowling and Tara Tatarski, respectively.

As the class drew to an end and graduation ceremonies took place, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of pride.

I am so very glad to be a member of the very first class and I hope to continue working with the police department on a voluntary basis.

Additional classes may be in the works in the future and I encourage anyone wishing to learn about the inner workings of our police department to apply for the class when the time comes.

To Chief Joe Williams, thank you.

Thank you for the time and effort you put into making this class such a fun and memorable experience.

You were a great instructor and I enjoyed getting to know you over the last eight weeks.

To the officers that participated in the class and volunteered your time, thank you. I appreciate all you did for the class and all you do for Rusk.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all you do to keep us safe.

Your hard work, dedication and willingness to put yourself in harm’s way for the citizens of Rusk does not go unnoticed and you are greatly appreciated.