West Plains PD ready for 2nd annual community police academy, looks to add new community advisory board

WEST PLAINS, Mo. – The West Plains Police Department is gearing up for its second annual Community Police Academy, while forming a new Police Community Advisory Committee to focus on residents’ priorities.

Chief of Police Stephen Monticelli told The Heartlander his goal is to bring a broad spectrum of viewpoints together through the advisory committee, and he hopes to see a diverse group of individuals sign up.

“As police officers, we often feel that we know what the quality of life issues are with the community,” Monticelli said. “But we find often that’s not really the case, where we think of violent crime or burglaries. When you talk with community members, it becomes those issues of speeding cars in their neighborhoods, noise issues, graffiti and those kinds of things.”

Community members who sign up for the advisory committee will make connections with executive members of the West Plains Police Department and provide insight of what they would like to see happen with local policing. Members of the committee will monitor different portions of the city and provide feedback to the department.

“We’re looking for eight to 10 members of the community,” Monticelli said. “We would like to have a diverse cross-section of the community. I would like to see some business owners, residents, individuals in the educational field, people with the faith community. We’ve even talked about having a representative of youth on the committee.”

Monticelli encourages those who are interested in joining the committee to also sign up for the Community Police Academy. The academy does not produce new police officers, but instead teaches citizens what a 911 call looks like from the department’s point of view and gives residents a better lens into officers’ everyday duties. 

“When you pick up that phone and call for a police officer, you [will] have a good idea of what they do out there,” Monticelli said. “It makes that group more comfortable in interaction with police officers and the department.”

The academy is a 10-week program with weekly meetings on Wednesday nights. Academy attendees will get an in-depth look at a police dispatcher’s roles and responsibilities, and have an opportunity to speak with investigators, cyber crime detectives, narcotics unit officers and much more. Members also will have the opportunity to ride along with an officer and visit the shooting range.

“We really want to make every effort we can to listen to our community about ways that we can best serve them,” Monticelli said. “It’s their police department and we are trying to increase that communication and engagement with the community.”

The application deadline for the Police Community Advisory Committee is July 1, while the deadline to apply for the Community Police Academy is Aug. 12. Citizens can pick up an application for each at the West Plains Police Headquarters’ front lobby, or fill out an application on the city website.

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