Citizens' Police Academy gives residents a look behind the badge
Over the past few months, the Citizens’ Police Academy of Temple has given residents a chance to step into the shoes of police officers and learn what it takes to serve in law enforcement.
“CPAT provides us with the opportunity to connect with and educate members of the community on police activities, our procedures and policies, but more importantly, to allow those members to get to know the women and men behind the badge,” Police Chief Shawn Reynolds said. “This is a great opportunity for us build relationships and to give the public a deeper look at what we do to keep our community safe.”
Thirteen participants will graduate from the academy on Tuesday, Nov. 17 marking the culmination of the 11-week program. Each session gave participants insight into a different aspect of law enforcement through presentations from TPD officers and hands-on activities.
Noel Shaver said the experience helped him connect with officers on a personal level.
“We know they’re people, but it’s interesting to see how much they care about the community while they’re here,” Shaver said. “Seeing the amount of hours they have to put in to get things done and the different entities they have to deal with really opened my eyes.”
Justin Faith said the process gave him a better understanding of certain protocols officers follow.
“In one of our first classes, they were talking about how they approach vehicles on traffic stops and how they might shine their flashlight in certain ways,” Faith said. “They’re not trying to hurt you, they’re trying to check things, so that really changed my way of thinking about why officers do the things they do.”
Topics covered a wide range of law enforcement activities, including patrol operations, criminal investigations, SWAT and more.
Justin Brown said the presentation on the Special Crimes Unit, which focuses on sex crimes and crimes against children, stood out to him.
“It opened my eyes to the types of apps my kids could be using, so it made me go home and have conversations with them about predators,” Brown said.
Outside of the classroom, participants were put in situations to mimic what officers experience daily. A video simulator put students in the place of officers and allowed them to respond to mock calls while a drunk-driving simulator showed how alcohol affects one’s ability to operate a vehicle. A session at the TPD shooting range included a K9 demonstration and gave participants a chance to see some of the equipment officers have available.
Cody Kelch, who hopes to pursue a career in law enforcement, said the entire experience has given him a clearer perspective of officers and how they interact with residents.
“The relationships police have with certain individuals stood out to me. The officers connect with you on more of a personal level than you would expect,” Kelch said. “It’s very informative and it will help with your understanding of how police work in the community.”