The City of Asheville Police Department celebrated the graduation its largest Citizens Police Academy class to date on Nov. 23. Forty-three people took part in the 13-week program, including seven high school students participating for their senior projects, making this the biggest class since the academy began in 1991.
“Any time we can involve the participation of this many citizens in this kind of a program, it’s a benefit to all of us,” APD Chief William Anderson said to the class. “Hopefully you walked away with a better idea of what we do. That educational experience has a benefit across the board for us as a community.”
The Citizens Academy is a 13-week program in which participants can experience up close and behind-the-scenes how law enforcement works. Attendees learn about forensics, the K9 unit, the bomb squad, investigative techniques and get to participate in ride-alongs as officers go on patrol. Class participants complete a total of 41 hours, forging relationships with the officers who serve the Asheville community.
Academy participant Octavia Caldwell said the course had a big impact on her. “This has been a wonderful experience. Every police officer I see, I have compassion for them.”
“Everyone comes out of it with a greater understanding of how law enforcement works,” said Crime Prevention Officer Allen Dunlap, who coordinates the academy. “This is a great way for people to learn more about us and for us to make more connections in the community. We want to reach out to the community. We want to build bridges.”
The Asheville Police Department offers a Citizens Police Academy twice a year, as well as a Junior Citizens Police Academy in the summer. Participants must apply and be accepted in order to participate. For more information about these programs, contact Officer Dunlap at 259-5834 or firstname.lastname@example.org.