Hamilton’s citizen police academy gives residents inside look at law enforcement

More than 20 ordinary citizens are spending one night a week this winter learning more about police work in Hamilton as part of the department’s citizen’s police academy.

Last week marked about the halfway point in the six-week course with curious citizens gathering at the Front Street headquarters to learn more about white-collar crime, fingerprints, and polygraphs.

Brad Spurlock, a librarian at Hamilton’s Lane Library, said he was interested in local history and thought the sessions would be helpful, especially with crime history.

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“It is really interesting. Gives me a different perspective,” Spurlock said.

Jana Roberts, who lives in the city’s North End, is supportive of police and wants to learn more to inform her neighbors.

“A lot of people in my neighborhood don’t understand what police can and cannot do,” Roberts said. “They don’t know that officers have to live and operate within the law (when responding to calls).”

Roberts said she wants to be more informed and helpful “making progress in the neighborhood.”

Sgt. Richard Burkhardt, who leads the program with Officer Kristy Collins, said the academy began in 2012 and is popular. It is offered once or twice per year, with next session likely in the fall.

During last Thursday night’s session, Detective Jon Habig recounted cases he has solved involving scams and white collar money thefts.

Last year, Habig was presented with the Butler County Prosecutor’s Office Meritorious Service Award for his dedication to computer work that untangled a scam involving a Hamilton victim and a victim from the Columbus area.

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The 20-plus-month investigation began with an initial report made by the victim and her family after she was scammed out of thousands in a fake sweepstakes operation. That led to tracing cash and checks to Walmart transactions from the victims to various personal and sham business accounts.

Collins said the academy participants are also learning about gang investigations, foot patrol in the city’s downtown area and shooting range training.

Hamilton Police Chief Craig Bucheit said the citizens academy sessions have been successful in the department’s continued outreach to the community.

“It is just one of our many efforts to reach out to the community to building and strengthen relationships,” Bucheit said. “I am a firm believer that our ability to provide for the safety and security of the community is by working closely and cooperatively with out residents who are out and are the eyes and ears in our neighborhoods.

“This gives us an opportunity to share with them insight into how we work and how business is conducted here at the police department.”

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