West Plains hosting Community Police Academy

Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 5:11 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 23, 2021 at 5:20 PM CDT
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WEST PLAINS, Mo. (KY3) - If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a cop, the West Plains Police Department is offering a way to find out.

The department is hosting its first Community Police Academy, a 10-week course, beginning Sept. 1.

“Basically what we’re shooting for is that our community can take away a sense of realism,” said Officer Tatum Whitsell, one of the Academy instructors. “They can go out and experience scenarios that will be pretty realistic, so they can get more of an understanding that’s not just what you watch on television.”

Lt. Brian Bunch also will teach courses at the Academy.

“They’ll get to spend time with our special response team,” said Lt. Bunch. “They’ll get to see our K-9 unit, how they operate. They get to go spend time out at the gun range with our firearms instructors. They also get to ride four hours with one of our patrolmen.”

The officers say being a cop isn’t always easy, but for the most part, the West Plains community is very supportive.

“What I enjoy most about my job is the people that I encounter,” said Officer Whitsell. “I take a sense of pride in the people that I serve and getting to know my community. “There has been a little bit of conflict that I have noticed such as being on a traffic stop and people drive by and flip you off,” she added, “But nothing that would keep us from showing up and doing our jobs.”

Lt. Bunch said anyone over the age of 18 is eligible to participate in the Academy. He hopes those who attend will leave with a new appreciation of what police officers go through on a daily basis.

“Every day you don’t know what you’re going to get into,” said Bunch. “I mean every day is new calls, new situations, new scenarios. Day-to-day, you don’t know what you’re going to be doing until you’re dispatched to that call. So, that’s kind of what I’m wanting the public to see.”

Bunch said they have a few openings for those who want to apply for the Community Police Academy. Those who are interested can pick up an application at the West Plains Police Department, or apply online at

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