“Police at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and the public are the police; the police being the only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”
-Sir Robert Peel, 1829
When positive communication exists between a police agency and the public it serves, that agency’s mission is more easily accomplished. Achieving such a high level of communication requires educating the community about the mission and functions of its police department. Not only can a community police academy accomplish that task, it can enhance support the community may already have for its police department.
A community police academy is an opportunity for the community to learn about what our department does. It provides the means to interact with officers, dispatchers, and police personnel that serve them. The intent of the academy is not to train participants to become police officers. Rather, it’s an opportunity to see first hand what types of duties and responsibilities law enforcement personnel have. This is important, because it tends to counteract the fallacies and exaggerations of television and movie-portrayals of cops; often the only exposure people have to law enforcement. Academy participants learn that the action, violence, deceit and departmental bungling portrayed on popular cop-dramas, action flicks and sensationalized national trials is far from the day-to-day activities of law enforcement. It is our opportunity to share our side and to show what is realistic.
The goals for the academy include enhancing community understanding and education, improving the relationship between the community and the police department, and creating a mutual trust and cooperation between the police and community.