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Inside The “Battle Against Bad Guys”

The Sheriff’s Citizen’s Academy offers a fascinating insight into the lives of local deputies – and it’s free.

Deputy Brian Reimsnyder puts a K-9 dog through its paces. Most of the dogs are German shepherds imported from Europe, though the unit also includes a bloodhound and dogs from American shelters.

Deputy Brian Reimsnyder puts a K-9 dog through its paces. Most of the dogs are German shepherds imported from Europe, though the unit also includes a bloodhound and dogs from American shelters.

It is 6:30 p.m. on a humid evening in September, and here, sitting in an air-conditioned auditorium at the Sheriff’s Office headquarters on 41st Street, 47 of us are awaiting the start of a free “Citizen’s Academy.”

At first glance, we are an oddly assorted group. Ranging in age from mid-teens to low-80s, our ranks include an accountant, an architect, a director of nursing, a meat manager, a realtor from Detroit, a school principal, a coastguard auxiliary, a registered nurse, a draftsman, a paralegal, a staffer from the VNA Hospice, and a writer from Vero Beach Magazine.

The meeting, which will launch the 36th session of the Academy, will reconvene for two-hour classes every Wednesday evening through Nov. 17. During that time, we will learn just about everything there is to know about the Sheriff’s Office – its marine and helicopter patrols, K-9 dogs, 911 dispatchers, crisis negotiators, SWAT teams and narcotics operations. As well as the sessions held in the auditorium, we will visit the Indian River County Jail, the downtown Courthouse and the Sheriff’s hangar at Vero Beach Airport.

But first, of course, there has to be a welcome. So here is Sheriff Deryl Loar standing at the podium as he welcomes us to the first of 11 weekly sessions, during which, he says, his staff will explain exactly what it is they do, at a cost of $39 million annually, for the citizens of Indian River County.

Loar begins by introducing his senior officers, who are lined up along the auditorium wall. Among them is Sgt. Rick Vidiri, a 31-year Sheriff’s veteran who has been in charge of the Academy since 2009, and Patrolman Brian Aguiar, a deputy with 20 years’ experience who is to be a guest speaker at the first class. Aguiar is dressed in a SWAT paramilitary-style uniform because, as Sheriff Loar explains, he’s due to go on a narcotics raid this evening as soon as he ends his speech. A raid! Tonight! A rustle of excitement goes through the audience.

Read the entire article in the December 2011 issue