(Editor's note: The Globe will be covering each of the Citizen's Police Academy classes. This is the first in the series.)
The first meeting for this year's Citizens Police Academy was held Tuesday night. The class, sponsored by the Dodge City Police Department, boasted 20 excited members and a handful of officers eager to share their experience. Nearly half of the class members indicated that they were attending because they have an interest in becoming police officers.
The class will run for 10 weeks and meet every Tuesday night. Each meeting will focus on a different subject ranging from the animal control to crime scene processing.
During Tuesday's class, the group took a tour of the police department led by Sgt. Jeff Mooradian. According to Mooradian, if you want to be a cop, Dodge City is the place to do it. He told the class the DCPD is a super active department, responding to more than 35,000 calls a year.
In addition to the tour and introduction by Mooradian, Betty Gordon, who works in the records department at the DCPD, gave a presentation on the operation and purpose of her division. The records department has nine full-time employees and is open 24-hours a day, according to Gordon. The students learned about confidentiality and retrieving records.
“The records department is the center of the police department,” Gordon said. “We are the first faces people see when they come into the department.”
Two Animal Control Officers (ACO) from the Dodge City Animal Shelter, Laura Stein and Paula Schreiber, also shared information about their jobs and a few little-known facts about Dodge City. Mooradian described the pair of officers as the most fearless of any members of the police force.
According to Stein, one of the least-followed ordinances in Dodge is regarding dogs and cats at large. According to the ordinance, neither animal can ever be out of the house and out of the owners control.
“If you are in your yard with your dog and he doesn't need to be on a leash to be under your control, that's fine,” Stein said. “But if he takes off running when you open the door because you don't have a fence or a leash on him, that's considered a dog at large.”
ACO Paula Schreiber told the class that pitbulls have been a banned breed in the city limits since 2005 as a result of a vote by the City Commission. The only exception is pitbulls registered within the city prior to March 2, 2005 and who's owners adhere to the requirements concerning housing and identification of the dogs. Owners who don't comply or have an unregistered pitbull are subject to a $2,500 fine and a year in jail.
Page 2 of 2 - Mooradian said that before the ordinance was passed, pitbulls were often used to keep officers from entering a house where criminal activity was taking place.
“Dogs with 50 percent characteristics of a Staffordshire terrier (pitbull) are not allowed in city limits,” Stein said.
Schreiber said the best way to keep a dog in town is to get a DNA test for the animal so you know whether it has pitbull in it or not.
The officers also told the group about ordinances regarding animal cruelty, exotic animals, nuisance animals and the restricted tethering of dogs.
Stein shared statistics from the animal sheltered and noted that the number of animals taken in each year has steadily risen since 2008.
“We received 2,452 animals in 2008. Last year we had 2,881,” she said.
The 2,881 animals included not just cats and dogs, but chickens, potbellied pigs, goats and even an alligator. Out of the more than 2000 pets, only 398 were reclaimed by owners. 928 were adopted out or rescued by various rescue groups. Stein said the shelter adopts out 10- 15 animals a month and although the organization is a kill-shelter, on average they euthanize only 20 percent of the animals. In the past the shelter had to euthanize nearly 70 percent of the animals.
Next week, the class will learn about the role of the prosecutor and have an introduction to the court system. Assistant Ford County Attorney Scott James will give a presentation covering the filing of charges, courtoom demeanor and jury selection.