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Mandi Erickson, a social studies teacher at New Richmond High School, puts a police badge sticker on Jace Drinkman, 2, while manning the New Richmond Police Department Booth at Fun Fest. Erickson was a member of the first NRPD Citizens Academy last year. (Photo by Micheal Foley)1 / 2
Mandi Erickson (left), Ali Saliny, Sgt. Jacob Sather and Detective Craig Yehlik man the New Richmond Police Department booth at Fun Fest. Erickson and Saliny were among the 10 residents who completed the department’s first Citizens Academy last fall. (Photo by Micheal Foley)2 / 2

The New Richmond Police Department is gearing up to once again hold its Citizens Academy — a nine-week class designed to offer residents a behind-the-scenes peek at daily police work.

The department offered its first Citizens Academy last year, with 10 individuals taking part.

“I thought last year went great,” said NRPD Detective Craig Yehlik. “I think the officers were just as excited about it as the citizens coming in. Neither of us knew what to expect, so it was a learning experience for everybody.”

This year, the class is scheduled to begin Sept. 10 with a session each Wednesday until graduation on Nov. 5. It will largely follow the same curriculum as last year with a few minor tweaks.

Among the topics covered in the class are patrol procedures, evidence collection and preservation, drugs, defense and arrest tactics, search and seizure application, high-risk stops and active shooter training.

“It starts off with just some general knowledge about how the police department runs,” Yehlik said. “It goes through the different aspects of law enforcement from drug investigations, what to watch for in your neighborhood and the different aspects of what officers go through on a daily basis.”

The class will culminate with an active shooter scenario in which participants, armed with a handgun that shoots paint pellets, will confront a dangerous subject.

“It’s sort of a paintball situation where we put the citizens into a little bit of a higher stress scenario to get the feeling of what police officers go through on a daily basis.”

Yehlik also stressed that officers enjoy conducting the sessions on their off-duty time.

“We come in and take a proactive approach with the citizens of New Richmond to be a transparent department, let them come into our world and see what we experience,” he said. “Hopefully they’ll take that out and advocate for us down the road.”

Some members of last year’s class are already acting as advocates.

Ali Saliny and Mandi Erickson both teach at New Richmond High School and were among the 10 graduates of last year’s Citizens Academy. Many community members may have encountered Saliny and Erickson at a NRPD booth just off the Fun Fest midway a few weeks ago.

The women handed out police badge stickers to youngsters, distributed safety pamphlets and touted the Citizens Academy to those who stopped by.

Saliny said her experience with the academy not only helped her enhance her civics courses at the high school, but also made her a more engaged member of the New Richmond community.

“It was definitely eye-opening to see a glimpse into the many things that our police department in New Richmond does,” Saliny said. “I had no idea they take care of and address as many issues as they do. It’s so much more than traffic stops. It’s house calls, it’s car accidents, it’s dealing with people of all ages — I guess I just didn’t realize how many calls they respond to in a day, whether it’s an elderly woman who has fallen, or something happening at a local business. I find so much comfort knowing how close they are to everyone and everything in the city.”



Applications: Those interested can pick up an application at the New Richmond Police Department (1443 Campus Dr.) and return it in person no later than 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 1.

Class dates: Each academy session will be held on Wednesday evenings beginning Sept. 10 with graduation on Nov. 5. Interested citizens must be committed to attending every session.

Requirements: Participants must be at least 21 years old, cannot have any felony convictions, must live in the City of New Richmond and must pass a limited background investigation.

More information: Contact Detective Craig Yehlik or Sgt. Jacob Sather at 715-246-6667.

Micheal Foley
Micheal Foley worked at RiverTown Multimedia from July 2013 to June 2015 as editor at the New Richmond News. 
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