Landmark Graduation For Missouri City Police and Fire Academy
Celebrating 25 years of tradition in Missouri City, 23 people recently graduated from the Police and Fire Academy after completing six weeks of training that offered a “behind-the-scenes” view of the dangers firefighters and police officers face on the job.
The academy milestone is special because Missouri City was the first community in Texas to host a “Citizens Police Academy” in 1986. The program was spearheaded by then-Lt. Bill Ennis, who learned about the concept from Orlando, Florida. Orlando started its academy in 1985 and the format was based on a similar one run by the British.
Over the years, the Missouri City Police Department and Fire & Rescue Service partnered to form the Citizens’ Police & Fire Academy; their first class was held in 1998. An extension of the group is the Police & Fire Auxiliary, an essential support network for both departments comprised of academy graduates. Each year, the auxiliary hosts fundraisers to help the Police and Fire departments purchase additional safety equipment and during the past 16 years, the organization has raised approximately $370,000.
“We appreciate the efforts of the auxiliary each year,” said Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald and Fire Chief Russell Sander. “The funds raised by this organization allow the Police Department and Fire & Rescue Service to enhance the safety of all residents by purchasing equipment outside the budgeted amount for the departments, that otherwise would not be available to us.”
Fitzgerald and Sander are equally proud of the academy. “It is important to our City, because it offers public safety officers an opportunity to partner with citizens,” the Chiefs explained. “We are proud of its success and committed to continuing its legacy and the legacy of Lt. Ennis.”
In the “Show Me City” academy, participants receive vital instruction in traffic laws and criminal law, with training sessions that cover the principles of CPR, a live fire demonstration, a staged SWAT operation, a Dive Rescue Team demonstration, traffic stops, building searches, and crime scene investigations. This year’s graduates were saluted at a dinner ceremony on May 24 at the Missouri City Community Center and received certificates, shirts and coffee mugs. All are eligible to join the Missouri City Police & Fire Auxiliary and/or the Citizen’s Response Team.
Texas also holds an annual statewide public safety training convention. The event is an offshoot of the Missouri City academy and is called the Texas Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association. During the group’s meetings, classes are taught by city, state and federal law-enforcement officers. And, the conventions feature a “Show Me City” tribute; each year an academy coordinator receives the “Bill Ennis Award” for exemplary service. Ennis, who served in Missouri City for 18 years, also worked as a Department of Public Safety Trooper and Sergeant for 20 years and as Chief of Police for Jamaica Beach.
Photo (courtesy of Missouri City): Graduates of the 25th Missouri City Police and Fire Academy are, from left, in front row: City Councilman Danny Nguyen, Shabbier Khalfe, Virginia Minter, Trisha Onochie, George Thomas, Tony Succi, Ray Parker, Valentino Imperial, Juana Zamarripa, Celeste Zamarripa, Winnie Ho, Isabel Zamarripa, Ashley Rogers and Councilman Bobby Marshall. On the back row, from left, are: Alan Minter, Ernesto Reyes, Ricardo Reyes, Austin Bergeron, Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald, Parks Board member Anthony Maroulis, Bill Swinton, Michelle Hendrix, Kenneth Sedberry, Patti Hendrix, Community Liaison Dan Flagg, Steven Ho, Ida Earle, and Fire Chief Russell Sander.