By Anne Eickstadt

ANNE EICKSTADT PHOTO Belvidere Republican
Chief Woody addresses the first fall session of the Belvidere Citizens Police Academy before turning the group over to Deputy Chief Wallace for a briefing on the BPD organization.


The Belvidere Police Department hosts ten sessions of the Citizens Police Academy twice a year to increase the communities’ understanding of what the BPD does, why they do what they do, and how they do it.

Sixteen people registered for the fall session of the CPA. On Thursday, Aug. 23 they were greeted by Deputy Chief Matt Wallace and Officer Tim Blankenship. D.C. Wallace kicked the meeting off with a welcome before introducing Chief Shane Woody who spoke to the group for several minutes and answered questions. He then asked Deputy Chief Patrick Gardner to discuss his aspect of the police department.

The BPD has a typical business/organizational pyramid structure with several different departments and everyone having specific duties. Chief Woody is at the top of the structure, with oversight into every aspect of the department. D.C. Gardner is in charge of the patrol officers. D.C. Wallace is in charge of the investigative side of the BPD.

Officer Blankenship is the Community Policing Coordinator and, as such, attends numerous events within the community in which the BPD is involved. He visits schools, the Keen Age Center, the YMCA, and other businesses and organizations to educate kids and adults about law enforcement within Belvidere and Boone County. He organizes the Volunteers in Police Service [VIPS], who assist with parades, checking the tornado sirens, help to attend the BPD booth at events, work with the free summer lunches in the park, grill for the Build-a-Bike giveaway, and other non-dangerous duties that will free up BPD officers to keep the community safe. This is in addition to his other duties within the BPD.

Each of these men has been a police officer for over 20 years, has worked in numerous departments within law enforcement, and has a thorough knowledge of what they need to do to keep the community safe, and the skills to match.

While Officer Blankenship ran the video display, D.C. Wallace explained the rank structure, flow chart, and jurisdiction of the BPD. He explained how police officers are hired – the testing they need to pass; background checks, personality tests; psychological testing, and a polygraph test. If the candidate passes all that, and is not already a police officer and has been trained, he/she will need to attend a police academy (at police department expense) and then undergo months of field training.

“Our best and brightest will train the rookie. It’s like driver’s training,” D.C. Wallace said. “You learn the book stuff, but you still need to learn to drive and apply that learning to reality. The rookie will need to learn to write a report the BPD way and drive a squad car. We teach them how to be safe and keep the community safe. They earn scores every day as their trainers evaluate their performance. At the end of their probationary year…

For complete article pick up the Aug. 30 Belvidere Republican.

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