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Snyder: West Fargo academy worth the time

I am an adventure seeker. I crave an adrenaline rush and love to experience new things.

When I signed up for the West Fargo Police Department’s Citizen’s Police Academy last fall, I knew I’d be able to see and experience new things, but I had no idea I would get so much more out of the course.

The advisors of the academy taught me about the constant feel of danger the officers experience. Just because an officer pulls me over, and I know I’m going to cooperate, doesn’t mean they know me and that I’ll be harmless.

I experienced this when I went on my ride-along with Officer Ryan Wuollet. We had a man flag us over and then get out of his car to approach the cop car. My adrenaline was high and a lump went into my throat. Why did this gentleman get out of his car so quick to come to the car? Was he on something? Was he dangerous?

It turned out he was just letting Officer Wuollet know that it looked like his headlight was loose, but in that 10 to 15 seconds, we had no idea what could happen. This is what the officers deal with every day. They gamble that for the most part, people are honest and good, but have to watch out for that small percentage of danger.

When conducting the interview for this week’s story on the academy it really struck me when Officer Rhonda Jorgensen said “our goal is to go home every night.” That will stick with me every time I have to interact with an officer whether it is for work, or if I happen to get pulled over in the future.

The class taught me the dangers of the job, but it also taught me how they like to have fun. They are normal people with families, they have to mow their grass and shovel their driveways just like you and me. They joke around with their co-workers who are more like brothers and sisters. And they have fun interacting with the members of the community.

The educational aspect of the course left me every week wanting to stay longer and I anticipated every week what I would be able to learn and experience in the next course.

Where else can you go to take a full, in-depth tour of the Cass County Jail, drive a patrol car to pull over the police chief, be taught how to shoot a gun by an expert, have the chance to have a police K-9 attack you and even be tasered. In my case, I volunteered to do that twice.

I know 12 weeks sounds like a long commitment, but you will be like everyone else, myself included who will say at graduation “man that flew by.”

Carrie Snyder
Carrie Snyder has been a staff photographer for The Forum since 2007. She grew up in Fargo and attended Minnesota State University Moorhead.  Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to .