In the spring of 2009 I took the Citizens’ Police Academy program which was 12 weeks on Thursday evenings for 3 hours plus 2 Saturdays (optional). It is an amazing program and if you are curious why the police operate a certain way, or just think it’s cool to drive a cop car and hold a SWAT gun, I highly encourage you to participate.
As part of the Citizen Academy, we had a 2 hour crash course (3 hours if you go on the optional tour) on the Harrisonburg Police Department. On the tour we were shown the offices…lots of offices. We were also able to see the SWAT room and peek into the evidence lab (no evidence held there, just processed). HPD occupies the ground floor, first floor, and second floor. Pretty much everything is extremely secure. When you walk into the Public Safety Building, the first window you see is the records department. This is typically where you go if you are picking up a report or getting fingerprinted. Every other office is activated by a key card, including going on the elevator to the second floor.
Officer Lynette Brown showed us around and explained everything. She was also our speaker for the evening and had a PowerPoint that including videos of how evidence was processed and what a call to service may look like. I think she thought it was corny, but I think it was a great idea! She went over the different areas within the police department, and there’s more than I think most people know about.
After we went over the general information, Sergeant Pollard came in to speak with us about the K-9 unit and SWAT. He even brought his SWAT bag and passed around some of the items that go on his vest. You would not believe how heavy that vest is! All I can say is, take Citizens’ Police Academy!! 🙂 At the end of the evening, we were able to watch K-9 Nobel (Sgt Pollard’s dog) perform a demonstration. Most of the HPD K-9s are trained in drugs and people tracking, but Nobel is an explosives dog who can smell everything from C4 to gun powder. We are a well-equipped community and I am extremely grateful to have these officers (including the K-9s) protecting us.
Attend Citizens’ Police Academy
*Visit HPD site for application when it goes live, usually beginning of the year
Participate in Crime Solvers
If you are able to give financially, please look at the Harrisonburg Police Foundation
*K-9 Nikki must retire next year, and they are looking to raise funds for another K-9
Get to know the officers in your neighborhood when you see them
Become a Full-Time Officer
Become an Auxiliary Police Officer
See CrimeReports.com (link for Harrisonburg)