Academy shows reality of police work

  • Tue Mar 20th, 2012 10:04pm

By Katie Murdoch Herald writer

MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — Police and detective work is nothing like the story lines depicted on TV dramas. There aren’t high-tech gizmos to process evidence. And no, it doesn’t take just an hour to solve a crime.

The Mountlake Terrace Police Department is offering the community a chance to see what police work is really like.

“They get to meet us on a different level as regular people,” Officer Kim Berg said.

The department is still taking applications for this year’s Citizens Academy, starting April 12. The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. March 30. Space is limited to the first 30 people. Notifications will be sent out once the spots have been filled.

The 12-week program meets from 6-9 p.m. Fridays at the Mountlake Terrace Library, 23300 58th Ave. W.

Sessions offer a glimpse into K-9, SWAT, narcotics, records and evidence handling, include a police ridealong and a job shadow of a 911 dispatcher, and end with a graduation reception for participants and their families.

These are the topics that most interest people and give them a flavor of what a detective on the street does compared with an officer on a motorcycle, Berg said.

“It gives a better understanding of what the limitations are in our job,” Berg said. “It’s not like Hollywood; it’s not like ‘CSI.’”

The department has offered a Citizens Academy for at least 10 years, Berg said. This is her third year involved.

Participants don’t have to be from Mountlake Terrace. In fact, previous participants have come from Shoreline and Everett. Ages have ranged from retired folks wanting to be involved in their community to young people interested in law enforcement.

Applicants must be willing to sign a waiver authorizing a background check for acceptance into the program and commit to attending all or most of the classes.

People have the chance to meet police officers in a non-threatening way, Berg said.

“It puts a more personal touch on things,” she said. “We’re more than a group that shows up when something bad happens.”

Kim Michel had lived in Mountlake Terrace for five years and wanted to feel more involved with her community. She also served on the city’s police advisory board. After participating in last year’s Citizens Academy, Michel met more people in her community and knew more about how the city and police department work.

“It gives a new perspective on the community you live in and what’s going on,” she said.

Guy Bennett, of Mountlake Terrace, had retired from the U.S. Postal Service and was looking for something to stay busy. The program was packed with a tremendous amount of illuminating information, Bennett said.

“It builds respect and admiration for what they do,” he said.

More info

For more information about Citizens Academy, contact Officer Kim Berg at 425-670-8260 or

To apply, download an application from the city’s website,, or pick one up at the Police Station, 5906 232nd St. SW.