What is a Citizen Police Academy?

A Citizen Police Academy is an educational and informative program that allows citizens the opportunity to learn about the issues that face law enforcement efforts in their community. The program helps local residents better understand police work in their community, and develops stronger ties between the community and police department.

Community-based policing is an important and vital aspect of crime control in any community. It’s all about the police actively working with the community to prevent crime, and create a safer environment. The Citizen Police Academy program is yet another mechanism for local and county law enforcement agencies to inform the public of what they do, improve communication, and obtain citizen input, assistance, and support throughout the community by sharing information.

What is the objective of a Citizen Police Academy program?

The objective of a Citizen Police Academy program is not to train individuals to be reserve police officers, but to produce informed citizens. The citizens and police officers meet each other face-to-face in a neutral, friendly setting, and each becomes a person to the other. In the past, citizens have simply seen a uniform, now they have an understanding about the person behind the badge.

The goals of a Citizen Police Academy program can include providing stronger citizen–police relationships, enhancing lines of communication, and the reduction of crime in the community.

What are some of the benefits of conducting a Citizen Police Academy?

The role of the police has always been of interest to the average citizen. The television media has capitalized upon this curiosity with shows such as “Cops,” “America’s Most Wanted,” and “CSI.” 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. These agencies have formed Citizen Police Academy programs that create an expansion of their community-based policing efforts.

Here are a few of the benefits of a Citizen Police Academy program:

  • Opens the lines of communication between the community and the police department.
  • Citizens and police officers have an opportunity to work closely together.
  • Citizens gain the ability to make informed decisions regarding controversial issues facing the community, and become aware of problems facing their police department.
  • Citizen involvement with the police department is enhanced.
  • Citizens gain a better understanding of how their police department works.
  • Graduates interested in continuing the partnership that develops in a Citizens Police Academy continue their involvement by joining various law enforcement-related volunteer programs such as: 

     *Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association

Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association

Generally a non-profit corporation, sometimes with 501(c)(3) status, alumni associations consist of graduates of local or county Citizen Police Academy programs. The graduates are invited to join the alumni association to continue the partnership that develops during Citizen Police Academy programs. Activities of the alumni association include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Promoting awareness and providing education in law enforcement issues and community concerns by conducting continuing education police-related programs on a monthly or quarterly basis.
  • Conducting fund-raising events which provides local or county agencies with items they would not normally be able to purchase due to budget constraints.
  • Acting as an unofficial public relations group within their community to help further community-based policing programs.
  • Presenting and promoting a positive image of law enforcement, their local or county law enforcement agency and their constitutionally mandated functions.
  • Providing community support and volunteer assistance to the department, as requested.