As autumn approaches, the Warwick Police Department is preparing for its annual Citizen Police Academy in an effort to educate citizens about the work police do as well as to improve communication between the department and the community.
This year’s academy will be held from Sept. 17 through Nov. 19, with classes meeting on Wednesdays from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Warwick Police headquarters, 99 Veterans Memorial Dr., Warwick. Two Saturday meetings to be held offsite are to be announced. Lt. Michael Gilbert and Sgt. John Kelly are in charge of the class, which will be administered by officers Steven Nelson and Dan Maggiacomo.
“The role of police has always been an interest to the average citizen. The television media has capitalized upon this curiosity with shows such as ‘Cops,’ ‘America’s Most Wanted,’ and ‘Stories of the Highway Patrol,’” Nelson said in an email to the Beacon. “Each week, real police action is broadcast into the living rooms of millions of Americans. Numerous police agencies have also benefited from the curiosity that citizens have about the police.”
Nelson said the objective of the academy is not to train an individual to be a “reserve police officer,” but to produce informed citizens.
“To the citizen, it may frequently appear that the police are not doing their job or are exceeding their boundaries,” Nelson said. “By allowing citizens a firsthand look at what rules, regulations and polices the police follow, some of the misunderstanding may be alleviated.”
Nelson said the Citizen Police Academy programs are intended to open the lines of communication between the community and the police department.
“Generally, the relationship between the police and the citizen is one of ‘love/hate,’” Nelson said. “The intent is to break the barriers and work with the community. It truly is a community police/citizen relations tool.”
The course closely follows the actual training and demonstrations police officers undergo. In addition to touring Warwick police headquarters and going on a ride-along with a patrol officer, participants will learn about the following: History of the Warwick Police Department; patrol operations; traffic stops; police training, to include weapon handling and emergency vehicle operations handling; active shooter; S.W.A.T. (Special Weapons And Tactics); crime scene investigations; ethics; DUI investigations; and the Sex Offender Task Force.
The free 10-week course is open to all Warwick residents and city employees. Participants must be 18 years of age or older, have no criminal history other than minor traffic violations (background checks will be performed), and sign any liability waiver or agreements.
Nelson said this would be the 23rd Citizen Police Academy class. He said the classes were first offered in the ’90s, usually holding one per year but on several occasions two classes a year have been featured.
“Participation for the CPAs are good,” Nelson said. “The department usually gets 25 to 40 applicants a class, sometimes more. These citizens are eager to find out what their police department does for the community and the manner and resources we bring to bear in the community.”
Class size is limited to 30 participants. The deadline for applications is Wednesday, Sept. 10. Applications can be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, dropped off at headquarters or mailed to the Warwick Police Department, Attn: Officer Steven Nelson. You will be contacted upon your acceptance to the class.
For more information about the Citizen Police Academy, visit warwickpd.org, or contact Officer Steve Nelson at email@example.com or 468-4371.