Two days after watching 22 community members graduate from the Citizens Police Academy, Brownwood Police Chief Terry Nichols was already thinking Thursday about next year’s academy.
    There will be another academy in the spring, Nichols said, and the department may even add a fall academy in 2018.
    The nine-week academy, which began Feb. 7 and ended with a banquet and graduation Tuesday night at the Depot Civic and Cultural Center, was “absolutely … an overwhelming success, Nichols said.
    Lemons Barbecue catered a meal, and Nichols and Lt. Randall Krpoun called each participant forward to receive a certificate. Charla Airheart, who with her husband Tim attended the academy, decorated a cake.
    Participants presented the Brownwood Police Department with a $260 donation, which will be used to set up a display in the Law Enforcement Center lobby. The display will consist of several uniforms from earlier eras that are currently on mannequins in a police department conference room.
    Nichols said he saw the uniformed mannequins when he was preparing to start working as police chief in July and thought they needed to be on public display.
    Nichols said he was impressed that 22 community members gave up 2 1/2 hours on Tuesday nights to come learn about the police department. He was also impressed with what participants said about the academy at Tuesday night’s graduation.
    “Having folks say, ‘what was the one thing that jumped out at me,’ and you hear over and over: the professionalism,” Nichols said.
    He said the comments participants made about the department “made my head swell. To hear the people say the great things they said about the men and women who work here meant a lot to me.
    “It is a team — from the dispatchers who take the 9-1-1 call, all the way through the detectives.”
    Instructors with the police department and other agencies talked throughout the academy on numerous topics involving the police department.
    As good as the academy was, Nichols said, the department wants to make it even better. Nichols said he’d like to include more “hands-on” experiences for participants and introduce additional topics such as operating a radar gun.