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By adriana_acosta
June 27, 2012 at 1:27 a.m.

Chief Deputy Bruce Page welcomed the new class to the academy. He spoke about the history of the Matagorda County Sheriff's office and a brief explanation about the program.

As a volunteer fire fighter for Van Vleck Fire Department, Jimmy McCauley wants to make sure he works well with law enforcement when an emergency happens.

"We are working together on a scene, we should be able to help one another," he added.

To do this, he applied for the Matagorda County Citizens Law Enforcement Academy.

On Tuesday, the Matagorda County Sheriff's Department kicked off its 13th citizens law enforcement class.

"What better way then to show our citizens how we work and show them what we do," said Lt. Stephen Baker, coordinator for the academy.

A lot of people think the sheriff's department only issues traffic citations and arrest people, but the department does so much, he said.

Baker also said the program allows them to hear from the community about what they can do better in the community and ideas students provide to them.

Baker has been coordinating the academy for 14 years.

Residents wanting to join the academy must have no felonies, no misdemeanor and a criminal background will be done before being accepted.

The 10 week program meets twice a week and each class there's different speakers.

The sheriff's office and the Matagorda County Citizens Law Enforcement Academy Alumni Association work together to get the classes started.

Residents from Matagorda County joining the class will learn about crime scene investigations, patrol, narcotics and K-9.

Once students graduate from the program they will have the opportunity to ride along with officers, volunteer at the jail and help out in the dispatchers department, said Page.

They will also be able to ride with deputies on beach patrol, work security at the Rice Festival and Rodeo, volunteer at homicides and crime scenes, he added.

"As a graduate of the academy, you become a family, a team member of the sheriff's department," said Carolyn Alvarado, president of the Alumni Association.

The alumni association helps with organizing the classes and once students graduate, they help the sheriff's department with anything they need, said Page.



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