MSP Citizens’ Academy leaves participants satisfied

NEGAUNEE — Over the last eight weeks, locals attended the second annual Michigan State Police Citizens’ Academy to learn more about the agency and the different scopes of troopers’ jobs. And yesterday, that handful of dedicated citizens graduated. In this week’s ABC 10 feature, Chelsea Birdsall takes a look at what those graduates learned this summer.

“I think that it’s been informative for them. They have information now to take back to the community,” said Michigan State Police Trooper Stacey Rasanen. “They’re another set of eyes and ears.”

A handful of U.P. residents from as close as Negaunee to as far away as Iron Mountain spent the last eight weeks in class, learning about the Michigan State Police. Participants spent 14 total hours in a classroom setting learning about various subjects including central dispatch, home and personal protection, traffic stops, the legal system, criminal investigations and drug awareness.

“Going through the citizen’s academy and hearing the different presentations by the different troopers was so helpful,” said Negaunee Resident, William Wilson. “This last one on drugs, there were just so many things I didn’t know about. I remember one presentation that showed exactly what the criminals are looking for. We can warn our adult children and just the people we meet to watch out for this and be careful.”

“As citizens, it’s important to know what’s in our area and be equipped to have that awareness and if we need to do something with that to let others know, and do a call in if we need to report something, said Negaunee Resident, Cindy Wilson.

But the newly-graduated citizens are leaving the MSP with more than just classroom lessons.

“I think there’s this miscommunication that all we do is arrest people and write people tickets well now that they know that we have different jobs assigned to different troopers, along with arresting people and writing people tickets, that we’re responsible for and provide for the community,” said Trooper Rasanen. “We’re out there working for the community and we want to make our community safe because we also live in the community we work in.”

“We’re very blessed to have a State Trooper for a neighbor.,” said William. “He’s been such a great influence just in knowing he’s in the community.”

“I think it shows the human side of us also,” Trooper Rasanen said. “You get to meet different law enforcement officers and see how they work. You can see that we’ve had similar training and that we branch out into our specialties and we become the people that we are and the police officers that we are.”

“I liked how they allowed us to ask questions in the class and how we could see that they’re real people too, serving our community, but there’s a way of their training that they go about things,” Cindy said. “It helps us feel a little more safe and confident that we have resources to help.”

“I think that they get more comfortable and trusting of us as the weeks go on,” Trooper Rasanen said. “I think there’s a friendship that builds, a trust, a sense of ‘Hey, I can come back if there’s an issue and I can approach them’ and they know we’re approachable. It’s a win-win on both sides.”

Though plans aren’t set in stone, Trooper Rasanen says a third citizens’ academy is a possibility and the post has already received calls about its potential from interested locals. The Wilson’s say they absolutely suggest the academy to everyone.

“We’re really blessed here, we really are, to have this facility and all these resources right here. It’s a real blessing for us.”