Getting to know the Prescott Police Department

Members of public go through Citizens’ Police Academy

Photo: Northern Arizona Regional Training Academy (NARTA) recruits Greg Grahlmann (on top) and Wyatt Novak (on ground) perform a scenario during the spring 2017 Citizens’ Police Academy.

Photo: Northern Arizona Regional Training Academy (NARTA) recruits Greg Grahlmann (on top) and Wyatt Novak (on ground) perform a scenario during the spring 2017 Citizens’ Police Academy.

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Cadets sit stoicly as 23 new law enforcement officer graduate in the 42nd class of the Northern Arizona Regional Training Academy at the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center Thursday, May 25, in Prescott. (Les Stukenberg/Courier)

It takes about three months to hire a police officer.

In this time, a thorough background check is conducted on each police agency applicant, as required by the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board (AZPOST).

“The background process is hugely invasive and extensive,” said Prescott Police Department Lead Police Officer Dave Fuller. “We check everything.”

Fuller was talking to a room of quad-city residents who signed up for the spring 2017 Citizens’ Police Academy.

Every Tuesday of this month, these residents have spent their evenings learning the ins and outs of the Prescott Police Department: how the Prescott Regional Communications Center operates, how SWAT operations are conducted, what community service functions the officers participate in, observing and interacting in K9 scenarios, etc.

This is the first time PPD has offered the academy since 2011.

“We had several requests for it and it’s an opportunity to bring some folks in from the community who want to know more about us, want to engage with us and learn how we do things,” Fuller said.

Prescott Fire Department to host summer 2017 Citizens Fire Academy

The Prescott Fire Department invites community members to get an inside look at how the department operates by attending a 2017 Citizens Fire Academy, held this June and July.

Participants will receive a complete overview of the various functions and services of the Prescott Fire Department, learn about the hiring process to become a firefighter, what a typical day as a firefighter consists of, as well as watch and interact with the men and women who serve the City of Prescott.

Curriculum will be presented, which includes organizational structure and history, fire-based emergency medical services, fire suppression, technical rescue and hazardous material response.

“This program is one that will engage the community member, build their awareness as to the services offered, and have an energy level that drives your desire to share with your kids and grand kids the stuff you have learned,” said Prescott Fire Chief Dennis Light.

Classes will begin Thursday, June 22, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. It will continue every Thursday until concluding with a wrap up and graduation on Thursday, July 20.

Participants must be 21 years of age and a legal U.S. resident. Preference will be given to Prescott residents.

The deadline to apply is Friday, June 16. Class size will be limited to 16 participants.

For more information or to receive an application, contact the Prescott Fire Department Business Manager at 928-777-1700 or email fire@prescott-az....

Information provided by the Prescott Fire Department

Among the program participants were Prescott Fire Department Chief Dennis Light, Abia Judd Elementary School Principal Clark Tenney, and Paige Cannon, the only one out of the 26 participants who had expressly shown interest in joining the police force — a male-dominated line of work.

A recent mother, Cannon moved to Prescott with her boyfriend from Chicago about two years ago. Several of her relatives work for the Chicago Police Department, so she is familiar with law enforcement culture.

“My son’s one-and-a-half and it’s important for me to show him that dreams are achievable,” Cannon, 22, said. “This is something I’ve wanted to do since I was a little girl. If I’m able to be with [the Prescott PD], which I do hope to be with them, I’ll be a part of making the community that I’m raising my son in better, which is so cool for me.”

During the most recent spring 2017 academy session on Tuesday, May 23, there was a detailed breakdown on what the recruits of the Northern Arizona Regional Training Academy (NARTA) in Prescott Valley endure during their 20 weeks of basic training.

Before being accepted into the academy, the candidates have to already be hired by a police agency, whether that is an agency in the quad-cities or elsewhere in the state. The agency that hires the recruit pays for that recruit’s time in the academy.

Offered through Yavapai College and run by the Prescott Police Department, the academy operates on a twice-a-year schedule with graduating classes in the winter and spring.

This spring’s recruits graduated on Thursday, May 24. Of the 28 that initially entered the program, 23 ended up making it through without failing out or quitting. Of those 23, only one was a woman.

Three of those recruits were present during the academy session on Tuesday, primarily to showcase some scenarios they’ve become proficient at. They were the only three out of the bunch hired by the Prescott PD.

Wyatt Novak, who just turned 21 in February, is the youngest in the class.

“You have to be at least 21 by the time you graduate,” Novak said.

His dad has worked as a police officer for the Prescott PD for about 16 years, which he credits for his decision to join the force.

“I went on a ride along with [my dad] one day and instantly I knew I was hooked and wanted to do it just like he did,” Novak said.

Another of the three, Gregg Grahlmann, also has family history with Prescott PD.

“Prescott was my first choice because my father worked for the Prescott Police Department,” Grahlmann, 33, said.

A former seminary student, Grahlmann chose to join the police force because it provided an additional means to work closely with the community and “see the good in every opportunity,” he said. The decision didn’t come easily, however.

“It’s not easy, but it shouldn’t be,” Grahlmann said. “Even having the background of having family in law enforcement, it was definitely something I didn’t take lightly.”

The final of the three, Easton Younger, has no connection to law enforcement through his family, but he has served in the U.S. Army.

“I just wanted to come back and serve my community as well, kind of be the protector for people who can’t protect themselves,” Younger, 22, said.

About half of this spring’s class consisted of ex-military personnel, said NARTA Class Sergeant Corey Kasun.

All three new Prescott PD hires provided similar advice for anyone considering joining the force and going through NARTA: make sure you’re in great physical condition and be prepared for some rigorous mental challenges.

“It’s a rewarding career choice, but it’s not something to go into halfway,” Grahlmann said. “Go all the way if you’re going to try for it.”

Prescott PD anticipates hosting additional citizens’ police academies on a more frequent basis moving forward.

“I think the direction that we’re going to go is spring and fall, spring and fall,” Fuller said.

For more information about the program, contact Fuller at 928-777-1915 or dave.fuller@prescott-az.gov.