Those interested in getting an up-close look into the day-to-day lives of their law enforcement officers are encouraged to register for the Monument Police Department’s Citizens Police Academy program.
“This isn’t a class where you’re going online and watching YouTube videos,” said Andrew Romano, the department’s community resource officer. “You’re actually talking to officers and asking questions, and we’re telling you about situations we’ve been in. The people who take these classes want to learn what we do, and it’s good to see that interaction.”
Registration is underway for the eight-week, no-cost program that runs April 16-May 28.
Most of the classes will be held at the Monument Police Department, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Those interested can pick up an application in person or complete one online at townofmonument.org.
The topics that will be covered during each three-hour session include community policing, traffic safety, criminal law, how to shoot a variety of police weapons, internal affairs, dispatch and patrol procedures, tactical considerations and use of force.
“The Monument Police Department believes this this is a good opportunity for the citizens of the Tri-Lakes area to see firsthand what law enforcement is all about,” Chief Jacob Shirk said in a news release announcing the event. “It (the Academy) also gives officers another opportunity to interact positively with the community, which is a fundamental base of community policing.”
According to Romano, the academy will be capped at no more than 20 individuals.
A change from last year’s program is the addition of a session on traffic safety that took the place of computer forensics. In addition, the dispatch session will take place on site instead of in the classroom.
“We were able to get a room at dispatch,” Romano said. “Last year, we had dispatch teach a class and got more questions than anticipated from our citizens. Because of all those questions, I figured why not actually show them dispatch and what’s going on as they do their jobs.”
Seven of the eight sessions are scheduled for 7-10 p.m. on Tuesdays. The other will take place on a Saturday at the range that will give citizens the opportunity to shoot police weapons.
And during the use of force sessions, attendees can feel what it’s like to be struck with a Taser gun.
The program weaves real-life situations into each session, and the officers hope the community can gain insight into their jobs that have perhaps been romanticized or exaggerated through television shows.
“When we’re going over stuff, we’re talking about our mindset and situations we’ve encountered,” Romano said. “What we’re doing out there is real. Crime and what our officers are dealing with are real. We had a great turnout at the last Academy, and that shows how much they support us.”