Applications are available for the Citizen Police Academy!
I’m sure programming will change a little bit, but I can give you some highlights of what I did 2 years ago:
Went on a ride along.
Learned to fire a gun.
Tested my negotiation skills.
Drove a police car (lights and sirens!).
Watched a mock crime scene get processed (last year).
Made friends with the other participants and with officers and other members of the department.
I loved this program! The reasoning behind having a Citizen Police Academy is to help the public understand what they do and why they do. Sometimes people get very frustrated with police but it’s usually because they don’t understand what’s going on.
The best example I have of that is a traffic stop. That’s when you get pulled over for speeding, driving all crazy, have a light out and so on. When they walk up to your car, they may look in the back seat as they get to you, they may speak sternly, they may have their hand hovering over their weapon. It’s not personal!! I hear about it more now because I’m more aware, but there are a lot of officers injured in the line of duty, and many come from traffic stops. Check the news, it’s been happening a lot lately. For an officer, NOTHING is routine. Remember that. They are trying to protect themselves until they determine that you are not a threat.
Anyway, since I enjoyed it so much, I encouraged my best friend Jon to do it. He was interested, but not all super into it like I was at first. You do practicals where you pretend you are the cops, whether it be a SWAT member or a negotiator, you play lots of roles. Since I’m a member of the CPA Alumni, I go back and play either the bad guy or the victim (so fun!) and Jon was the ONLY person who saved me from Officer Hoover. Needless to say, the officer was very impressed. And Jon ended up loving the whole class.
So, you want to know how a scene is processed? How about seeing the K-9 unit in action? Want to experience what it’s like in riot gear? Like knowing how a case follows through? How about really understanding what goes on behind the scenes in the department that is sworn to keep you safe? Then, this program is for you!
You will graduate from CPA with more respect for officers than when you began, even if you respected them before. You will see the inner-workings of how cases are solved. You’ll also understand why sometimes officers fly by you without their lights on. You’ve wondered about that one before, haven’t you? If you were scared of police before, you will learn that they are people too, just people with a really important and dangerous job that we all need to be respectful of.
If you are interested, click here for the application!
One last thing…on the road, when an officer has someone pulled over, GET INTO THE OTHER LANE! It’s the law in most states including Virginia.I do not work for Harrisonburg Police Department. But I feel this is a great program and I want to help them get some great citizens in the classroom so they can spread knowledge as I try to do.