Sir Robert Peel is considered to be the father of modern policing. He is responsible for forming the London Metropolitan Police Department, the world’s first organized law enforcement agency. Peel wrote out nine of his principles in founding the London department that are still very relevant today. A few of the principles point directly to the reasons why we offer Citizen Academies to our community.

The first is, “The police are the public, and the public are the police.” This principle means law enforcement, and the public, will always be in a partnership to provide service. As members of law enforcement realize, we cannot be at all places at all times. Law enforcement officers come from the public, therefore we are part of the communities we serve. We depend on the public to help us by providing support and information. Law enforcement was never intended to function as a stand-alone entity. From the very beginning, Peel recognized law enforcement would need to work together with the communities they are charged with protecting.

This is the basic premise behind offering citizen academies. We are trying to involve, and inform, the members of our communities on how and why we do the things we do, and in the fashion we perform the duties of law enforcement. Citizen academies give participants the chance to have a behind-the-scenes experience of the operations of the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office. We have so many units in our agency that are different from every other type of law enforcement agencies, such as our Detention Center, Civil Unit, Sex Offender Registry Compliance Unit, in addition to the regular duties of patrol and various criminal investigations.

For example, only the Sheriff’s Office operates the jail. Each sheriff in North Carolina is mandated by the Constitution to run a detention facility for the holding of prisoners. No municipal police or state law enforcement agency is assigned or allowed to accomplish this task.

The service of certain civil papers is also a responsibility solely for sheriffs in North Carolina. Those who attend our Citizen Academy will get to take an inside tour of the Detention Center to see how we manage the day-to-day activities. Most people have never stopped to think about what it takes to feed, clothe and provide for the needs of 350 inmates on a daily basis.

The second principle Peel addressed is, “To recognize always to secure, and maintain the respect, and approval of the public means also the securing of the willing cooperation of the public in the task of securing observance of laws.” In other words, work with the public to ensure mutual respect for the residents, and they will in turn show respect for the law, and the law enforcement officer. We can never force our residents into compliance with laws they fundamentally disagree with. After all, the laws come from the residents in the form of our General Assembly.

This area is at the heart of why we host our academies. Informing residents about the laws, and the manner in which we enforce them, is critical to achieving willing cooperation. The majority of people will follow the law, if the know the law. We work hard during our academies to ensure participants have their questions about the law and law enforcement answered in a way everyone can understand.

We run several academies throughout the year. Our traditional Citizen Academy will be starting soon. This academy will run from Oct. 8 through Oct. 29, meeting on Tuesday and Thursday nights from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office Training Center, 435 Monticello Road in Statesville.

The classes are free to attend, and we encourage anyone who wants to learn about the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office operations to join us in this learning experience. If you are interested in attending, please send me an email at decampbell@co.iredell.nc.us, or call 704-878-3180.

Darren Campbell is the Iredell County Sheriff

Darren Campbell is the Iredell County Sheriff.

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