Baltimore police to offer 10-week citizens academy to 20 community members Weekly program to teach how officers do their work

November 29, 1996|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

Hoping to build a better relationship with community members, Baltimore's Police Department is starting a Citizens Police Academy -- a comprehensive 10-week course on how officers do their jobs.

Classes for 20 invited participants start in January with an overview and history of the department, which celebrates its 200th anniversary next year. But participants will quickly learn about such issues as ethics, how officers decide when to use deadly force and how the department polices itself.

"It's an opportunity for us to bring in citizens from throughout the zTC community and give them a real appreciation for the type of training and issues faced by police officers every day," said Col. Joseph R. Bolesta, chief of the human resources bureau.

Those invited include prominent community leaders, business owners, public relations workers and journalists.

"More people have to get involved in doing something to help the crime issue," said Stuart M. Brooks, a Guilford resident and car dealership manager who accepted his invitation to the program.

Brooks moved to Guilford six years ago and is co-founder of the community's private security patrol. "We can't sit back and say government is going to take care of it, because government can't do it anymore," he said.

The academy will meet once a week from January to April. Participants will ride with police officers and take part in the department's "Shoot/Don't Shoot" program, which trains officers when to fire their weapons.

A use-of-force lecture will be delivered by Gary May, the department's chief legal counsel. Talks also will be given on issues from solving homicides and resolving hostage situations to routine car stops and domestic violence.

"We need the support of the community," Bolesta said. "People have to have a better appreciation of what an officer is up against every day. It's the citizens' police department, and the citizens need to know more about them."

Bolesta said this is not the first time the department has started such an academy, but it is the most comprehensive one. The idea came from police Commissioner Thomas C. Frazier.

"When I moved to Baltimore in 1990, I quickly came to the realization that in this city, crime was an issue," Brooks said.

Pub Date: 11/29/96

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