In August, 2014, the Cleveland Heights Police Department inaugurated the Citizens Police Academy and accepted the first cohort of students. The Academy was part of Chief Jeffrey Robertson’s desire to deepen mutual understanding and regard between the department and the Cleveland Heights community. He considered the Citizens Police Academy as an opportunity for citizens to learn about police training and police work, and for the Department to hear citizens’ perceptions about policing in Cleveland Heights.
In 12 classes conducted over six weeks, students covered nearly the same material as the full-time cadets in the daytime Police Academy. Each topic featured officers who were knowledgeable, highly trained, and active in the field. They were enthusiastic about their work and spoke from their substantial, personal knowledge and experience. They were open to questions and dialogue, and gave straightforward answers.
We covered Ohio Criminal Law, Laws of Arrest, Deadly Force, HAZMAT, Criminal Investigation, and Crime Scene techniques. We visited the pistol range and had hands-on weapons safety training. We learned about Drug Investigations and Search Warrants, Bombs and Explosives, SWAT, and K-9.
We went out with Traffic Patrol officers to handle Speed Enforcement equipment. We discussed Patrol Techniques, First Aid and CPR, Domestic Violence, the Juvenile Diversion Program, and Operating a Vehicle while Intoxicated.
By the last class it was clear that tremendous effort hand been expended for the Citizens Police Academy. It was equally clear that Captain Barnard was the energy and the passion behind our experience. At graduation he told us we were part of the Police Academy family, and he really meant it.
The Citizens Police Academy was a profound learning experience for me. I realized that CHPD is a lot of good, dedicated women and men doing difficult and often dangerous work at a high level of skill and expertise. I appreciated the candid conversations, the honesty and the openness of the officers who taught us.
As a nation, we have undertaken a conversation on policing, and much of it speaks to the nature of the core relationship that officers on the street have with the people they serve. The Citizen Police Academy was, in addition to the curriculum content, an honest conversation on policing – expressions of concerns and doubts without accusations, explanations without defensiveness.
I encourage you to attend the Citizen Police Academy. Classes meet for six weeks on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings starting on August 11, 2015. It is a good learning experience, a deep dive into an important dimension of life in Cleveland Heights. If you are interested, contact Captain Barnard at the Cleveland Heights Police Academy. You can reach him at 216-691-9751 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications are available by clicking here.