For many, the work of police officers represents a black box. Some think they’re doing a great job, and others criticize their efforts, but few outside the force understand exactly what they do day-to-day. The Marana Police Department is improving that understanding by offering a Citizens Police Academy. This weekly program offers participants the chance to experience firsthand the challenges faced on the job by officers.
Two weeks ago, this three month program reached its conclusion for the fall. From September through November, 23 Marana residents learned a tremendous amount about police work, from evidence collection to vehicle operation. Six of these attendees are currently high school students, and some are interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement.
Marana offered its first Citizens Police Academy in 2004. In the years since, this program has ebbed and flowed. Due to funding cuts, it took a temporary hiatus starting in 2008, but returned in 2012 and has been thriving ever since.
Suzanne Sutherland, who works for the Town of Marana, enthusiastically described her time in this past fall’s program. “I wanted to know what PD did. Even though I work for Marana, I still didn’t know much about what our officers face on a daily basis, and this program helped me understand that better.”
Karrie Moriarty, who also participated in the fall session, shared Sutherland’s positive memories, while adding in a few of her own. “One aspect that I particularly enjoyed about this program was our chance to see all different sides of the police department, not just the officers, though they’re great, too. We saw dispatch, records, property and evidence, and even the K-9 unit. Rocco, Cack, Fany, and Blesk, their police dogs, are incredible members of their team.”
The Citizens’ Police Academy is no small commitment. With weekly meetings from 6:00-9:30pm, the participants must dedicate considerable time to this effort. Nevertheless, all agreed that the sacrifice was absolutely worth it. “Every week was interesting,” Sutherland describes. “Even if the officers were coming off a full shift, they were still eager to highlight their experiences and share their motivation about becoming a police officer. I came away from this class with more respect for the police officers and firefighters for their dedication and commitment to helping people.”
The next Citizens’ Police Academy will begin in January 2016 and will last through April. Learn more to find out if you want to experience this opportunity and watch a video to see what types of activities participants can look forward to.