Residents have opportunity to learn more about local law enforcement at Academy

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CLAYTON— Have you ever wondered about the full scope of services that the Rabun County Sheriff’s Office provides to the people in the community?

Well, Sheriff Chad Nichols is giving interested citizens an opportunity to learn about a variety of duties the Office of the Sheriff performs through its 2020 Citizens’ Law Enforcement Academy.

The free of charge, eight-week-consecutive course teaches an array of topics through presentations and interactive demonstrations that are designed to give citizens a hands-on glance into some of the daily operations of the Rabun County Sheriff’s Office.

“I feel it’s important for the community to know what all we do [at the Sheriff’s Office],” Nichols said about the purpose of the program. “I think it lets the community know some of the challenges we face.”

Nichols explained that a large portion of the population isn’t involved with law enforcement. The extent of their experience might be seeing a deputy pull someone over while on the highway.

So, the Citizens’ Academy gives the larger population a chance to expand their understanding and “show them all the facets of the local Sheriff’s Office here,” Nichols said. 

The Academy begins with a presentation from Nichols about the history, purpose and varying roles of the Office of the Sheriff.

Each week will focus on a different topic, such as Office of the Sheriff; Law Enforcement challenges of the 21st Century; Use of force, de-escalation and community policing; Uniform Patrol Division-School Resource Deputies; Criminal Investigations Division-K9 Program; Courthouse Security and Civil Process; and the Jail Division, which will include a tour of the jail.

Guest speakers will present on related topics throughout the course.

“The overall course will not only be informative, but fun and entertaining as well,” according to a statement from the Rabun County Sheriff’s Office.

Nichols said that citizens will be able to interact during the class in staged scenarios like approaching a vehicle during a traffic stop, lifting fingerprints off of objects, and other activities.

Citizens will also learn about how the court system works.

“We can put the puzzle together of how the criminal justice system works,” Nichols said about each week’s topic. “A better understanding of the process.”

The program begins at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 10 and goes until April 28, ending with a dinner ceremony.

Each class lasts about 2-3 hours.

It will be held in the Rabun County 4-H Conference Center, 184 South Main Street, Suite 185, Clayton. (This is the old Rabun County Hospital Building).

Pre-registration is required to attend and the deadline to sign up is Tuesday, March 3.

Applications are available at the Sheriff’s Office, 25 Courthouse Square, Suite 301 or at under the “useful links” tab.

For questions, contact Lt. Mark Gerrells at 706-782-3612. Gerrells is the facilitator for the Citizens’ Law Enforcement Academy.