- August 6, 2015
OCOEE — Many citizens have wondered about the perspectives of police during traffic stops or firefighters during rescue missions.
Thanks to the public servants of Ocoee, a limited number of participants will be able to tour their local law enforcement and fire rescue agencies and gain those perspectives.
The fire and police departments of Ocoee have combined for their second annual Citizen’s Public Safety Academy, which begins at 6 p.m. April 9. Participants will meet for three hours at 6 p.m. each Thursday through June 11, alternating between the Ocoee Police Department at 646 Ocoee Commerce Parkway and the main station (No. 25) of the Ocoee Fire Department at 563 S. Bluford Ave.
“In prior years, there was 10 weeks with fire and 10 with police,” Ocoee Fire Lt. Cory Bowles said. “That was asking a lot for citizens to take time out of their days. It is good to show how the departments cooperate and we all get along to better manage emergencies. Prior to this, the fire department did their own thing and police did their thing separately for a few years. We got together and realized we probably could get together and give a better idea of what public safety does altogether — we’re all on a scene of an emergency.”
Each participant must be at least 18 years old, have no criminal record and sign a release agreement before starting. Ocoee residents have preference and the ability to partake in the academy for free, thanks to donations funding the academy.
Last year, more than 20 people signed up for the academy, many eager to learn from this experience, Bowles said. This year, the academy will shift from Wednesdays to Thursdays to avoid interfering with people’s activities that are prevalent on Wednesdays, such as church group meetings, he said.
Industry experts are joining Ocoee firefighters and police officers to teach the academy, which includes a graduation banquet upon completion.
“One week, we do a CPR process and the medical processes of that kind of call,” Bowles said of the fire department sessions. “We pull out the equipment for the medical scene and train them in CPR. Another night, we let participants cut cars with firefighters, using the Jaws of Life. One night, we take the entire group to the Central Florida Fire Academy and go through the burn building. The participants get walked through the building full of smoke after we have firefighters do a live burn run. They don’t get to put out those fires, but they get to wear the equipment as they go through and have that cool experience.”
Firefighters will offer a fire extinguisher class and ride times with fire engines during the shift period, too, Bowles said.
The Ocoee Police Department portion also will include ride-alongs, as well as events such as crime-scene investigations, a jail tour, K9 demos and sessions on traffic violations, drunken driving, evidence, fingerprinting, handgun safety and Tasers, some with Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Officer Patera Scott-Marsh said.
“We’ll have a certified instructor come out and just give a general overview of Tasers and their history,” she said. “They get to shoot a Taser at a target and learn about when a Taser is deployed and things like that.”
The handgun demo will offer participants a chance to shoot, too, she said, and the police also will simulate use of force and take a look at domestic violations.
“It’s beneficial because they get to see that one-on-one contact, get to ask questions, and it gives them that hands-on experience,” Scott-Marsh said. “This includes parts like cases and processing, so they can be aware of some of those things and what we’re looking at.”
Overviews and tours of both departments will be part of the academy, as well.
Registration is open until the start date.
For more information, contact Officer Patera Scott-Marsh at (407) 905-3160, Ext. 3024, or [email protected], or Fire Lt. Cory Bowles at (407) 905-3140 or [email protected].
Contact Zak Kerr at [email protected].