Community involvement like taking the Citizens Police Academy class plays integral role in crime-fighting, Maj. Carl Saizan of State Police tells CPA graduates

Posted: October 31st, 2013 | Filed under: In the Community, News Releases, SBSO News
The graduating class of Sheriff’s Citizens Police Academy.

The graduating class of Sheriff’s Citizens Police Academy.

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Maj. Carl Saizan of Louisiana State Police lauded members of the graduating class of St. Bernard’s Citizens Police Academy for taking the time to learn about law enforcement and said such community involvement is crucial in crime-fighting.

More than 30 residents of St. Bernard Parish graduated the free, 10-week course geared to bettering communications between the community and law enforcement. Call (504) 278-7628 to register for the next class or other free courses offered by the Sheriff’s Office.

Saizan, a Chalmette native who worked at the Sheriff’s Office five years and has gone on to head State Police in the New Orleans, Baton rouge and North shore areas, was guest speaker for the 15th graduating class of the Sheriff’s Citizens Police Academy at Nunez College on Oct. 30.

“It is community awareness and involvement that helps us fight crime,’’ Saizan said. “We rely on citizens to play an integral role.’’

He also said, “feedback from the public is both expected and appreciated.’’ In return, police must understand that wearing a badge is a privilege and not a right, Saizan said.

Mentioning he is a native of Chalmette, Saizan said one of his first calls as a deputy on the streets in St. Bernard was a burglary in progress call near his parents’ home and the man he caught was a former childhood friend “who had played cops and robbers with me’’ when they were young.

Saizan also said St. Bernard residents have a good Sheriff’s Office devoted to stopping crime and one that works well with other agencies.

Sheriff Pohlmann told graduates that St. Bernard still has a small-town feel to it but Sheriff’s Office men and women are well trained and backed by the latest technology in areas such as communications, weapons and innovations such as a bomb robot to inspect suspicious items.

“I am lucky to be the sheriff of a great law enforcement department,’’ Sheriff Pohlmann said, “and a parish where people will pick up the phone and report something that doesn’t look right to them.

“It makes it a safe community when citizens get involved,’’ the sheriff said. He told the group he hoped they received insight into how law enforcement works in the parish and encouraged them to get involved in a Neighborhood Watch program in their community to help keep their area safe.

Natalie J. Seaton, who lives in eastern St. Bernard where she and her husband moved after coming from Wisconsin to help as volunteers after Hurricane Katrina, was chosen by the graduating class to speak for the group on the final night.

“My husband, Tom, and I have been touched by the spirit of the people here.’’ Seaton said

And they enjoy the feeling of being safe in St. Bernard, she said, adding the graduates of the Citizens Police Academy class were struck by the obvious efforts of sheriff’s personnel to protect parish residents.

Many participants thought the class “was an eye-opener’’ to what goes on in St. Bernard, Seaton said. She read off comments from class members, including that everyone enjoyed discussions and demonstrations of equipment, much of it received through grants that didn’t cost the Sheriff’s Office anything.

Seaten also said class coordinator Capt. Charles Borchers, who is Director of Community Relations for the Sheriff’s Office including Neighborhood Watch programs, “never seemed to run out of patience’’ and things to discuss.

Borchers can be reached at (504) 278-7628 to discuss crime prevention tips, organize a Neighborhood Watch group or learn about upcoming free programs given by the Sheriff’s Office.

Citizens Police was started as a mechanism for the public to learn about police work in St. Bernard, interact with officers and ask questions about any concerns. More than 500 residents have participated since its inception in 1999.