Citizens academy seeks members

Local law enforcement entities are working in partnership to organize the East Grays Harbor Citizens’ Academy, which is scheduled to run from Feb. 21-April 11. The academy will be open to the first 30 applicants who pass a background investigation. Applications are available at the Elma, Montesano, and McCleary Police Departments.

The intent of the academy is to help educate participating community members on the law enforcement and criminal justice systems.

“Attendees will learn about selected police units and will participate in practical application that demonstrates several aspects of the police officer’s job,” the Elma Police Department stated in a press release for the program. “They will also learn about the many facets of the criminal justice system and how police interact with the court system.”

Elma police officer Josh Wheeler, who is helping to organize the academy, explained that the law enforcement agencies involved reason that an informed citizenry is better able to help police address crime. He added that the academy has been modeled, in part, on one put together by the City of Westport in the past.

“It’s more or less just to get the citizens involved … whether it’s Elma, McCleary, Monte or East Grays Harbor County,” Wheeler said. “We are seeing a rash of thefts, vehicle prowls, vehicle thefts, burglaries in the area, so we’re trying to reach out to the community to help out.”

Asked about the cause of the upsurge in certain crimes, Wheeler said the reasons are multifarious but are in many cases linked to substance abuse and, in particular, the nationwide opioid epidemic.

Those with questions about the academy can contact