OTTUMWA — Locals often do not have the opportunity to look through the eyes of a police officer, unless they attend Citizens Police Academy.
Citizens Police Academy was started in 2011 as a first-hand educational opportunity for residents to learn about local police operations. The academy holds eight-week sessions free of charge from 6-9 p.m. each Monday in February and March each year. Although the Citizens Police Academy is still six months away, Police Chief Tom McAndrew and other officers are already preparing for the academy.
McAndrew said each class will consist of presentations about how law enforcement works and what a typical day looks like. “Other presentations will consist of gang suppression, drug investigation, animal control, patrol operations, crime investigation and other topics as well,” McAndrew said.
Although the police department gets most of the say in how the sessions will be conducted, McAndrew said he and officers welcome input from the students as well. “We usually change it each year,” he said, “but for the most part it stays the same. We change it based on what students tell us what was interesting and what wasn’t. We ask what they liked and what we would like to see more of.”
Participants vary each year, but McAndrew said he believed in a large turnout for this upcoming academy. “This class is a significant benefit,” McAndrew said. “Not all of them realize what goes on unless they see it first-hand.”
Ultimately McAndrew and other officers hope this class will make a difference, as stated in their most recent report. “It is our belief that a clearer understanding of a police officer’s duties, how the officer carries those duties, and the end result of the officer’s actions will help develop a better relationship between the police department and the community.”
If CPA sounds like something you would want to participate in, call McAndrew at 641-683-0661.