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32 Graduate From First-Ever Isla Vista Citizen’s Academy

After eight weeks of interactive classes, 32 people graduated April 23, 2016, from the first-ever Citizen’s Academy for students attending UC Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara City College as well as residents from Isla Vista.

The participants finished their last class, a K-9 demonstration, followed by a graduation ceremony and celebratory barbecue.

The event was held at the Sheriff’s Training Bureau and was attended by family and friends of the graduates as well as their Sheriff’s deputy and UCSB Police Officer instructors, who have guided them through the past several months of classes.  

At the ceremony, Sheriff Bill Brown and UCSB Police Chief Dustin Olson presented the graduates with a certificate of completion.

The Citizen’s Academy is designed to give participants an inside look at just some of what law enforcement does on a daily basis to keep its citizens safe.  

While the Sheriff’s Office offers a yearly Citizen’s Academy, this is the first one where several agencies, including the Sheriff’s Office, UCSB Police, UCSB and the City of Goleta, teamed up to offer one just for Santa Barbara County college students and Isla Vista residents.  

During the eight week course, the participants toured the jail; fired handguns; and took interactive classes in active shooter training, use of force, search and seizure law, building searches and arrest and control, just to name a few.

Upon completing the course, the graduates agreed it was an eye-opening experience. UCSB alumni and Isla Vista resident Cameron Schunk said, “by being placed in the driver’s seat, sometimes literally, for a host of experiences typically reserved for law enforcement personnel, I not only gained a deeper understanding of the profession but a much more profound respect for the work these brave folks do on a daily basis.”

Santa Barbara City College Assistant Photography Professor Seantel Sanders said, “the Citizens Academy was an eye opening experience that exposed me to the myriad tasks and duties law enforcement personnel must perform in the course of the job. I learned that law enforcement is a life of service to one’s community. The academy also gave me a good sense of my rights and responsibilities as a citizen, something I think is very important in today’s climate.”

UCSB freshman Marc Renaud said, “the Citizen’s Academy was a unique experience that allowed both those pursuing a career in law enforcement as well as those who were unacquainted with the job to gain a new perspective. The program allowed for open discussion on hot topic issues and allowed the average citizen to understand some of these concerns from active law enforcement members.”

UCSB graduate student and Isla Vista resident Louis Van Blarigan said, “the Citizen’s Academy was an eye opening demonstration of the dichotomy that exists between common perceptions of law enforcement and the convoluted reality officers face while making tough decisions. After experiencing the Force Option Simulator, I feel compassion for the officer who approaches with a hand on his gun, instead of being insulted by their mistrust.”

Organizers plan to make this a yearly Citizen’s Academy. The Sheriff’s Office also plans to hold more Citizens’ Academies in different areas of Santa Barbara County in the near future to allow more people to participate.  

To find out when the next Citizen’s Academy will be held, sign up for Nixle alerts on the Sheriff’s Office website at or follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Kelly Hoover is the public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.

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