You're a police officer. You stop a car for running a red light. As you approach the car, the driver gets out and starts running. What should you do?
You're on the police's swat unit. A man has barricaded himself inside his home. He won't come out and threatens to shoot if you come in to get him. What do you do?
You can get a personal, hands-on demonstration of how a police officer would handle each situation described above by enrolling in the Collierville Police Department's Citizens' Police Academy. The Academy accepts up to 30 people. Sessions are usually held once a year, one night a week for 6 weeks and two Saturday sessions.
The police department began offering the classes in 2000 as a way to inform citizens about how police officers work and the intricacies of their job. Instead of relying solely on classroom lectures, the police officers let the people in the academy get a hands-on feel of the process by setting up role-playing situations.
For example, instead of just sitting in a classroom and talking about all the variables involved in what seems like a routine situation, such as a traffic stop, people in the academy get to step into the officer's shoes. Participants go out to a parking lot and officers will act like someone getting stopped and the participants will act like officers.
With the officers' experience, they know exactly how to set up a situation that shows how delicate something like a traffic stop can be. For example, what if the driver of a car stops after an officer pulls him over. The driver gets out and is standing next to his car. The officer approaches and asks the driver for his driver's license. As he reaches to hand the license to the officer, the driver drops it.
When this situation was set up for class participants last year, one of the people acting like an officer reached down to pick up the license. Bad move. If an officer picks up the license, he or she puts himself in a vulnerable situation where he could be kicked or attacked. Back up and make the driver pick up the license.
Some of the topics that are being covered are:
- Constitutional / Criminal Law
- Report Writing
- Community Oriented Policing
- Domestic Violence
- K-9 Unit
- Accident Investigation
- DUI Enforcement
- SWAT Unit
- Defensive Tactics / Use of Force
- Crisis Intervention
- Criminal Investigations
- Traffic Stops
- Building (Jail & Communications) Tour
Upon graduation, the graduate will be asked to become a "diplomat" to the community for the Police Department. In addition, the graduate will be asked to join the Citizen Police Academy Alumni Association. Some graduates have assisted in other endeavors of the department, such as Crime Stoppers, Chief's Advisory Board, the Special Citizen's Volunteer Program and Neighborhood Watch / National Night Out.
Applicants will be screened and all must meet the following requirements:
- You must be at least 16 years of age;
- Live, work, or worship in the Town of Collierville;
- Complete an enrollment application;
- Have no felony convictions;
- Have no misdemeanor arrests within five years of application;
- No pending criminal charges;
- Be able to pass a background check;
- Be willing to sign the required waiver agreements.