Last week, I received a phone call from Chief Joel Richards of the Carrollton Police Department. He asked me to participate in a program that I am a little embarrassed to admit I did not know much about. The program was the Citizen Police Academy (CPA).

I don’t want to ruin the surprise for future attendees of the CPA, but I can tell you that it was quite an experience. I had a great time participating in the final activity of the program on the last day. I was fortunate and honored to have been asked to be a part of it.

After meeting with the CPA in Carrollton, I also learned that Sheriff Langley and the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office have a CPA program as well as other counties in our surrounding area. Douglas, Coweta, and Haralson counties, just to name a few, have CPA programs as well. Some are provided by the sheriff’s department while others are administered by the local municipalities.

However, they all seem to have a similar goal. That goal is to develop a positive relationship between law enforcement and the community.

Since I participated in The Citizens’ Police Academy in Carrollton, it would be appropriate to provide a little background on the program. This CPA was founded in July of 1997 to invite members of the community to participate in a learning activity to raise the awareness of the Police Department’s duties and role in the community; to enhance and promote a positive relationship between the police and community; and to share how the Department operates and what policing challenges the City of Carrollton faces.

According to the CPD website, this learning experience has left the graduates with a greater understanding of everyone’s role in crime prevention and provided them first-hand knowledge of what is required of today’s law enforcement. Through a structured curriculum taught by Officers and personnel from the Department, along with specialized guest speakers, students participate in a variety of activities such as touring the Public Safety Complex.

Classes are held to cover many different topics such as: Family Violence/Child Abuse, Use of Force, Juvenile Court Services, Training Programs, Criminal Investigations, Victim Assistance Program, Narcotics, Accident Investigation, Crime Scene Investigation, Internal Affairs, Firearms, and Self Defense. The classes participate in several outside projects like attending a court trial and participating in a ride-along program with on-duty Officers.

A spin-off of the Citizens’ Police Academy was created in 2001 for youths between the ages of 9 and 13 years old. There are now two sessions held per summer. The Youth Police Academy attempts to expand the youths’ knowledge of the Law Enforcement profession, as well as introduce them to the prospect of obtaining a Law Enforcement career. However, along with this option comes the introduction of being a concerned and active community member. The youth’s exposure ranges from school violence to crime scene investigation.

Sheriffs Langley, Miller, and Yeager offer similar programs in their respective counties. As I said earlier, the city police departments in these counties also offer CPA programs to our citizens.

I would ask all of my readers to research and support their local CPAs. You may also consider signing up for a CPA in the near future.

I may even ask my son, Jake if he would be interested in going to a Youth CPA this summer. Who knows, maybe one of the officers can answer his daily question to his daddy. “Daddy, why is your client in jail today?”