Area residents got to see firsthand how BPD officers train to confront armed suspects as part of the Citizens Police Academy on Thursday, May 2.
The 14-week course is designed to give residents of Jefferson County a hands-on look at everything officers do to protect and serve Beaumont.
After a brief safety meeting, residents were taken to one of four stations, each a critical part of police work. Those attending the class — which has been made free of charge to all residents of Jefferson County — were whisked away to lessons on traffic stops, use of batons and handcuffs, a police first-person training video game and finally, a live fire scenario using 9 mm paint projectiles fired from real handguns.
“This is a real Glock” said officer Doug Kibodeaux, who spearheaded Thursday’s live fire. “It’s a lot more realistic training. It actually gets the heart beating. Breathing is a lot faster and it puts some adrenaline in you. One can see for themselves a little bit of what it’s like to be a police officer making snap decisions in that excited state.”
Kibodeaux, a 30-year peace officer, said BPD officers go through the live-fire training often. After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting wherein a gunman killed 20 school children and six adults, BPD officers received training in the event the unthinkable should happen here in Beaumont.
“We’ve been training for an active shooter in a school,” he said. “We actually did it in an abandoned building at Lamar University.”
But when they aren’t training for school shootings, BPD is teaching area residents the importance and dangers of police work. Many of those who were presented with real-life scenarios of life and death made the wrong decisions, firing at innocent hostages or unarmed bystanders. Kibodeaux said when the adrenaline is flowing, it’s hard to make the right choice every time.
“If we’re in that situation in real life, if we don’t train for this stuff, in real life we might make that same mistake,” Kibodeaux said. “It’s good training for us, but especially for the Citizens Police Academy. It opens eyes and let’s people see how bad things can happen in a very excited situation.”
The Citizens Police Academy is and will remain free of charge, a testament to BPD’s Chief Jimmy Singletary.
“He’s very, very conscious that the police department is only as good as the citizens it serves,” he said. “It is very, very important to have a good relationship between the people and the community. It makes our job so much easier.”
Clay Thorp can be reached at (409) 832-1400, ext. 225, or by e-mail at clay [at] theexaminer [dot] com.