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Average Joes learn what it takes to be a deputy

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GREENVILLE, N.C. -

From processing a crime scene to shooting a gun, the Pitt County Sheriff’s Office’s Citizen's Academy covers it all.

It’s an interactive program that teaches the Average Joe what it takes to be a deputy.

"We are learning more in-depth about the way things work and how difficult of a job these people have," says Judi Robertson, a Citizen’s Academy participant.

Think of it as a crash course in law enforcement.

Level 1 is spent mostly in the classroom, as Pitt County deputies teach people the basics of investigations, jail and the court system. Level 2 gives participants more insight with hands-on experience.

"They'll shoot a handgun, a rifle, a shotgun,” says Sheriff Neil Elks during a training session at the shooting range. “Some of these people, it's the first time they've ever held a firearm and shot one."

Sheriff Elks says the free program gives people the chance to see what deputies do day-to-day.

"It just makes them have a better understanding of what their tax money is being spent on," he says.

It's also a way for deputies to get to know the people they serve in the community.

"It gives them that sense of ownership within the Sheriff's Office and that just builds the relationship,” says Lt. Kip Gaskins, head of the Community Impact Division.

Students don't earn any certification for the class, but they say it's less about the recognition and more about the experience.

"Everyone should learn as much as possible about the community in which they live,” Robertson says. “It's vital for your own understanding, your own protection and so you can be a contributor."

So far, more than 130 people have graduated from the first level of Citizen’s Academy.

For more information on the program, click here.

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