Commentary

Chris Blue: Apply now for next Citizen’s Police Academy

October 25, 2013 

Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue

TOWN OF CHAPEL HILL

  • Interested?

    Apply on the Police Department website at chpd.us (click the Citizen’s Police Academy link) by Thursday, Oct. 31.

Last spring, I wrote about our redesigned citizen’s police academy and encouraged you to participate. You responded and we filled every seat in the action-packed class.

So, here’s your chance to apply if you were not able to join us last time. On Nov. 13, 14 and 16, we will offer another series of sessions designed to educate, inform, and build relationships with our community. Participants attend either the Wednesday or Thursday night portion and everyone attends the Saturday portion. The weeknight sessions run from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Saturday, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

We held our first citizen’s police academy in 2010 and focused on a lecture format that stretched over 10 weeks, meeting one night each week. This required a significant investment of time for the participants and, consequently, enrollment was limited. Recognizing that fact, the Chapel Hill Police Department and the Community Policing Advisory Committee completely redesigned the experience. In collaboration with students from the UNC School of Government’s Master of Public Administration program, we created a model that allows residents to get an intense, informative, and most importantly, fun experience in about eight hours.

After last spring’s session, here are some of the comments we received.

“Wonderful accessibility and participation from all levels of what appears to be a really first-rate police force. Whether they were working evening/weekend overtime or that was their regular shift, the fact that so many officers engaged so graciously in this additional duty really made an impression on me.”

“I particularly like to hear the personal experiences from members of the department.”

“I know I came away with a better sense of what officers are trying to accomplish, and I’m far more inclined to try to look at situations from their perspective than I was before (not out of any particular resistance but just out of ignorance of their job and its demands).”

“Very informative; the academy staff and presenters were very encouraging for us to ask questions and they answered in a manner that you felt like it was OK to ask that particular question.”

“I loved it when they shared stories and explained how they improved procedure based on experiences they were confronted with. It felt like the individual officers and the department looks at situations and re-evaluate, as needed.”

“I had no real opinion (positive or negative) about the CHPD before attending the CPA, but now my level of trust and esteem for them is very high. When I encounter them in the community I feel I will have a much better understanding of what they are trying to accomplish.”

“Many thanks for a fantastic program.”

Those comments suggest to me that we’ve gotten it right. We hire great people who are passionate about their work and who are eager to share that enthusiasm with our community.

The Police Department takes pride in delivering excellent services to our community. The academy is designed to increase understanding and awareness of the role of the Chapel Hill Police Department in our community and depict the true life of a police officer through “hands-on” activities and engaging discussions.

Participants will operate a simulator and see what it’s like to respond to a serious police call that turns violent. Attendees will sit in a squad car, watch the SERT and K-9 teams in action, and talk to us about the tough issues. Along the way they’ll learn about the department’s work, how to make Chapel Hill a safer community, and much more.

Upon completion of the experience, I hope participants will leave with an enhanced trust in the Chapel Hill Police Department and the capabilities of our employees. I think they will have a different perspective on the true nature of police work in Chapel Hill.

Those interested in attending are required to complete an application at chpd.us. Just click the Citizen’s Police Academy link. The application deadline for the November academy is Thursday, Oct. 31, and there is no cost to attend.

Don’t miss this chance to find out more about why we call ourselves the Guardians of the Hill.

Chris Blue is Chapel Hill’s police chief.

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