The Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office has 20 new additions. Citizen’s Academy held its graduation Monday night. And while the students did not get guns or badges, they do have the know-how to help make the county safer. “We consider them part of our law enforcement family when they go through this class and complete it,” said Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram. The 20 Brunswick County residents had eleven weeks of intense hands on training before receiving diplomas Monday from the Citizen’s Academy. “With that knowledge they can pass that along to their neighbors and friends, and hopefully help us make Brunswick County safer,” added Ingram. While the graduates can not carry badges, they did get a badge of honor; a small pin with the sheriff’s star. “It felt very good. It felt like I was putting the pins on when I was in the service,” described Citizen’s Academy graduate Karl Wendelken. Graduate Jo-Ann Tompkins said, “It felt really good because I learned so much. I have a totally new respect for law enforcement in Brunswick County with the sheriff’s office.” Jo-Ann’s daughter, Deanna Whalen, is now a sheriff’s office volunteer, after getting her stripes in the last class. She was the inspiration for mom to do it this time. “I am very proud of mom and I’m very proud and honored to be part of the sheriff’s office,” she said. Deanna was not the only one. Pauline Shiltz also graduated and said, “I feel so proud. When I got my PhD I was alone, and this is a group of friends and I’m really proud and I feel good about the sheriff’s office.” Along with camaraderie, students said the program builds an understanding of what danger looks like, and how to be pro-active, as opposed to reactive. If you are interested in being a part of the next Citizen’s Academy, visit the sheriff’s office website at www.brunswicksheriff.com for an application. The program is free to attend for Brunswick County residents who pass a background check.