The 10-week course, which begins April 4, runs Wednesdays from 6 to 9 p.m. at the department headquarters, 9100 Brentwood Blvd.
The purpose of the program, now in its third year, is to build a better understanding of how law enforcement works, and create stronger relationships between the public and the police.
“The idea is to educate members of the community about the various roles of police,” said Sgt. Walter O’Grodnick. “People are amazed at things like how restricted offers are by rules and regulations covering things they do, but that still require split-second decision making.”
Classes range from crime analysis, investigations and evidence gathering, as well as school programs, gangs and traffic enforcement. Participants are taught crisis negotiation, how to handle Tasers and other weapons, weaponless self-defense and handcuffing techniques. Field trips include excursions to the county jail, juvenile hall and the coroner’s office.
Resident Tim Biglow, a graduate of last year’s academy, said he enjoyed getting to know the officers and department employees who run the classes more personally, and see the pride they have in their department and their city. Many students, he said, were surprised to find that what they’ve seen on television isn’t how things actually work.
“Police on TV and real life policing are nowhere near the same thing,” Biglow said. He added that having attended the academy allows him to set the record straight when cops come up in everyday conversations, making graduates of the program something of ambassadors for real police everywhere.
The Citizens Academy is free to the public, but space is limited to 20 participants. The deadline for applications is Friday, March 9. Applications may be picked up at the police department front desk. For additional information, call O’Grodnick at 925-809-7752.