To allow Columbia citizens to learn about the police department and its daily operations, the Columbia Police Department is hosting a Citizens’ Police Academy.
The academy, which begins March 4 and will meet on Tuesday evenings through May 13, combines many aspects of the department’s daily operations.
“Participants will meet in a classroom for instruction and work with various other departments,” Officer Jessie Haden Pitman said.
They will spend two hours in the call dispatch center, participate in a ride-along for half of a shift and accompany officers to the range, among other activities.
Participants will learn about the department’s interaction with the Boone County Prosecutor’s Office and Courthouse and the Boone County Sheriff’s Department and Jail, according to a news release from the department. Participants will take a field trip to the jail.
“In the classroom portion, participants will learn about our daily activities such as traffic procedures and proper use of force,” Pitman said.
Participants in the academy can continue on to become volunteers for the police department once the course is finished.
The academy began in 1998 when a new chief from Florida joined the department.
“He was from a larger community that interacted with the community and he helped start the program here as a way for the community to become informed,” Pitman said.
The academy is held the in spring and the fall.
Participation has grown since it began. Police have received over 20 applications and often cap enrollment at 15.
“It is a great time. People are very interested and we have received positive reactions,” Pitman said.
Pitman said the academy is not aimed at trying to form opinions but rather at informing the public.
“Police operations should not be mysterious,” Pitman said.
In past years, MU Police Department has hosted a program similar to this.
“We have worked with one in the past for faculty, staff and students,” MUPD Capt. Brian Weimer said.
The program, which worked jointly with CPD, aimed to inform participants about the workings of MUPD. Participants included a variety of faculty, staff and students.
“It was a successful program. We filled all the spots,” Weimer said.
There are no dates set for a future program through MUPD, he said.