Police to offer citizens taste of training Academy to open in September

June 10, 1993|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Staff Writer

Beginning in September, citizens can go to school to obtai firsthand knowledge of what it's like to be a Howard County police officer.

Chief James N. Robey announced yesterday that on Sept. 9 the county's first Citizens Police Academy will begin.

The academy will offer an 11-week training program to instruct citizens on several police-related issues, including how to fire 9mm service weapons, drive police cruisers and judge use of force. Students will also ride with an officer to observe the officer in action, said Lt. Jay Zumbrun, commander of the department's Research and Planning Division.

Details of the program still need to be ironed out, but police hope to offer the course twice a year during the spring and fall, he said. The work schedules of academy instructors will be adjusted to avoid the cost of extra work hours.

Creation of the academy is part of the department's commitment to community-oriented policing, Lieutenant Zumbrun said.

The academy will give people a "clear perception" of what policing in Howard County is about, he said. Many times the public judges police based on what they see on television or in movies, he said. "We want them to get a true appreciation of what a police officer does."

Those interested in attending the academy have to be at least 16-years-old and a county resident, Lieutenant Zumbrun said. He envisions a class of 20 people.

Classes will be held at police headquarters in Ellicott City between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. Thursdays. Those attending the academy must attend seven of the 10 class sessions to graduate and obtain a certificate.

Lieutenant Zumbrun said he'd like a variety of people to apply -- including those critical of police. "We want to change some attitudes and perceptions about us," he said.

Two months ago, the chief approached Lieutenant Zumbrun about the idea after learning about citizen academies in Baltimore and Prince George's counties and in Washington.

He said other department officials have told him that graduates come out with a better idea of what a police department does.

The announcement of the citizen academy follows the creation of the department's Citizens Advisory Council in October.

"We'll keep pushing ahead until we exhaust every avenue to strengthen the partnership between police and the community," Lieutenant Zumbrun said.

For more details on the academy call 313-2205.

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