Program builds bridges between police, citizens

Carrollton Police Office Michael McDowell speaks with participants during the first Law Enforcement Education Program.

A Carrollton police officer has started a new law enforcement education program, designed to help bridge the gap between citizens and officers.

As part of the new program, citizens can ask questions they’ve wanted to ask law enforcement and learn more about their duties. Started by CPD officer Michael McDowell, the classes are intended to build transparency and communication between citizens and their local police.

“Everybody has their own experiences with police that creates various biases, or creates different perceptions,” said McDowell. “I grew up in a minority community, and [for] most of my life, when I walked outside of those four walls in my home, everybody told me the police are crappy, they just come out and attack people and do all these things.”

“You know everybody has questions, but they may not be in the right place or time to ask these questions, or feel safe to ask,” said McDowell.

So, McDowell provides that space where they can freely ask these questions.

Every year, Carrollton Police Department hosts a Citizen’s Police Academy, which covers a variety of topics with lessons occurring once a week. But this new program is different, and will occur even when the academy is not in session.

This new program will also offer times that the academy does not, including weekends when people might not typically be working.

As part of building the relationship with local law enforcement, McDowell enlists the help of his fellow officers, as well as deputies from the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office and troopers from Georgia State Patrol, all of whom are local and the ones patrolling the street.

The program is still a work in progress, and was first held at the Church Without Walls. Approximately 30 people attended the event for its first meeting, and McDowell plans for this to be a monthly program.

Another meeting is planned within the coming weeks, and those interested can visit the police department and provide their contact information to be informed on the details.

“I’m just excited about the opportunity to sort of bridge the gap,” said McDowell.