For anyone who has ever wanted a behind-the-scenes look at the criminal justice system, crime prevention and Claremore Police Department—now is their chance.
CPD has announced the dates of their Citizens Police Academy, which is in its eleventh year.
The 11-week program is scheduled to begin on Feb. 27 but applications to be a part of the academy must be completed and turned in by Jan. 27.
CPD's Captain Milburn Litterell says the feedback on the academy has been overwhelmingly positive.
"I actually don't know of any negative responses. People are surprised. It's an eye-opener for them because people really have no idea what we do," he said. "We bring people in and expose them to as much of our daily job as we can. Obviously it's just scratching the surface but we try to explain what we do, and why we do it that way."
Litterell said they're trying to foster a better understanding.
"If the public understands what we do, they're more comfortable with us. And if they're more comfortable with us our job becomes easier," he said.
Chief Stan Brown said the academy also provides a way for members of the community and members of the police department to "interact in a very positive and proactive way."
"It is further hoped that the instruction will increase police awareness, dispel suspicion and misconception, and increase police/community rapport."
Litterell said the academy is as beneficial for officers as it is for citizens.
"It's an unfortunate fact, but our officers go out every day and deal with people who aren't the best members of society. They spend a lot of time with bad guys," he said. "But with the academy they get to come in and meet these 20 people who are good citizens. It really does remind them who we are working for."
What to expect
The participants will meet once a week for 11 weeks—Tuesdays from 6:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m.
The Citizen’s Police Academy is a police department interactive program. It is designed to educate the public about its departmental policies and regulations, the criminal justice system, and ways to prevent crime.
Participants in the program will receive limited instruction on department history, recruit selection and training, departmental organization, criminal law and investigation, traffic investigation and enforcement, use of force, firearms training, patrol methods, community policing, and much more. Practical application and exercises will also be implemented on a limited basis. These exercises will promote understanding of the intricacies and intangibles of the job.
"We have several nights that are strictly lecture and several nights that are hands-on. All the instructors are police officers, lawyers from the district attorney's office, people in criminal justice," Litterell said.
He said academy participants traditionally enjoy the opportunity to do traffic stops.
"That's a real eye-opener. They think it's easy but there are a lot of things going on—from talking on the radio, to finding a safe place to conduct the stop, manipulating lights, getting out first and constantly observing what's going on in the vehicle," he said. "People don't think about that so when we give them the opportunity to do that."
While traffic stops and the morning spent at the shooting range are fun, Litterell said it's another class that tends to be the favorite.
"We do a domestic night. We have cops, in empty apartments, set up as actors. They act out domestics—things we've actually seen. And with as much instruction as we can give the students, we have them try to resolve the situation," he said. "And that seems to be everybody's favorite."
Who can participate
Anyone over 21 years old is eligible to apply. Participants will be subject to a limited background check. Academy participants are then selected into the program by the chief of police. Once you are selected you will be sent a letter of confirmation and a list of academy rules, regulations, and schedule.
"There are some people who don't want to do certain aspects of the academy—and we don't force them. Some people don't want to shoot a gun, for example, and that's okay," he said.
Applications can be obtained at the Claremore Police Department at the records window.