Civilian ‘cops’: Fishers Police Dept. offers annual police-training academies

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Growing up, Jenna Burow knew she wanted to work in law enforcement, so she always searched for ways to get involved in the community or with the Fishers Police Dept. That is why when she saw something online about the Fishers Police Dept. Citizens Academy, she was immediately interested.

After attending the 12-week academy in the spring of 2017, where participants participate in police-style training, Burrow then attended the Fishers Teen Academy that summer. The Teen Academy is a one-week law enforcement-type training program, which cemented her interest in the law enforcement field. She interned with the Fishers Police Dept. her senior year of high school but stayed connected to FPD throughout her four years as a student at Purdue University, where she studied psychology and forensics. Burow graduated in December 2021 and was hired by FPD in January.

Burow is a civilian criminal forensic investigator for FPD. She processes evidence and crime scenes. Burow said it’s a rewarding feeling playing a pivotal role in solving crimes.

“It’s not all, you know, doom and gloom,” Burow said. “It’s nice when you get fingerprint results and you see that like, ‘Oh, wow, I’m making a difference in helping people close cases.’”

Although she’s always had in interest in law enforcement, Burow also said the Citizens and Teen academies confirmed her desire to pursue it as a career.

“That definitely helped plant the seed of wanting to learn more,” Burow said. “It was great because you get an insight into the different aspects that go into the department as a whole and they humanize the experience.”

FPD Major Mike Jensen said although some Teen Academy grads go on to work in law enforcement, Burow is the first to work for FPD.

“It’s kind of a neat success story,” Jensen said. “We are excited to have had Jenna join us as a full-time criminal forensic investigator with the police department. It has been incredible to watch her progress from a Teen Academy student to an intern and now a full-time employee.”

The Fishers Teen Academy is entering its 20th year teaching local junior high and high school students about the work that goes into being a law enforcement officer. Most of the sessions are taught by school resource officers, with help and demonstrations from other departments, throughout the week. The program finished up its 2022 session that ran July 11-15 and was held at Riverside Intermediate School. More than 30 students attended.

Registration for fall classes for the Fishers Citizens Academy, meanwhile, is under way. The academy is open anyone 16 and older. Similar to the Fishers Teen Academy, classes show participants different roles of an officer and provides insight into different units of the department and covers topics such as making traffic stops, the K-9 unit, the role of the Fishers Dive Team, the work of crime scene investigators and how to safely navigate social media and the internet.

Jensen said both programs provide Fishers residents a way to get involved with the police department and that participants of the Citizens Academy also often want to stay involved and can be seen volunteering at large events.

“It’s important for us to continue to build relationships and transparency within our community,” Jensen said. “The best way we can do this is to interact with all of our community members and show them how we operate, the specialized equipment and training available, and answer questions they may have.”

Students stand at attention during the Fishers Teen Academy. (Photo courtesy of Rebecca McVay)

FPD Citizen Academy

The Fishers Police Dept. Citizens Academy begins its 40th session Aug. 17, with graduation Nov. 26. Classes are conducted every Wednesday from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Fishers Police Dept. Registration is requires and is limited to 30 participants. Applicants are subject to a screening process. To register, visit app.smartsheet.com/b/form/73691a78040d410ea1bdea2ba4d22eb8. Applications are open until July 22 or until the class fills.

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