COLONIE — Residents interested in learning more about the way police work is done in the Town of Colonie have only two more days to register for the Colonie Police Department’s annual Civilian Police Academy (CPA).
The program—which is aimed at educating the public about the challenges that face the department and community, fostering relationships between officers and residents and providing information regarding areas of immediate concern—will graduate its 18th class of civilians this May, following a nine-week weekly program beginning on March 22.
According to CPD, the concept of a civilian police academy was developed in England in the late ‘70s by the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary, and was adopted in the United States when the Orlando Police Department implemented a “Police Night School,” which ultimately evolved into one of thousands of CPAs around the globe.
The program is free; classes take place on Tuesday evenings from 6:30 to 9 p.m. and cover a range of topics such as: forensics; patrol; investigations; active shooter situations; computer crimes; constitutional law; drug crime, and more. Instructors are officers who specialize in the topic being covered, and a graduation ceremony takes place upon the program’s completion.
For participants who would like to learn more, however, there will also be opportunities to attend special classes on additional days to learn about things like the courts system, firearms training or the Emergency Vehicle Operations Course.
“We limit it to 20 spaces,” said Lieutenant Robert Donnelly on Friday, March 11. “And I believe we’ve already filled 15; I would recommend that anyone else who wants to take part get in touch with us by March 17, at the latest.” The registration deadline has already passed, said Donnelly, “But we don’t want to turn anyone away.” The average participant tends to be an older, working adult, however Donnelly said that they’re happy to take anyone over the age of 18 who are interested in learning more about police work.
“The ultimate goal of a CPA,” says the CPD website, “is to reduce crime through a strong bond between the citizens and their police department.” General objectives of the program include: fostering cooperation between students and officers; showcasing the knowledge, capabilities and talents of CPD officers; dispelling misconceptions by explaining process and regulations; and creating “neighborhood ambassadors” to share that information.
“The graduates of the Civilian Police Academy will be familiarized with the operations of the Colonie Police Department and will have gained a deeper understanding of problems facing officers and the laws that govern their conduct,” states the website. “[They] will be able to make decisions which affect the police department and the town with a heightened awareness and better information.”
“Every year we give evaluations to the students,” said Donnelly. “And feedback has always been positive. We’ve also used those evaluations to decide whether to change topics and we encourage the students to speak out in class on those topics. Sometimes the conversation gets heated because there are so many different opinions—it all depends on the group that year. But we try to encourage participation.”
Participation is limited to those who live, work or go to school within the town, and who are over the age of 18 (due to sensitive subject matter). To register, visit the CPD website’s home page and click on the application link in the middle of the first page, or call Melissa Shaw at 782-2619.