The Grain Valley Police Department will start its own form of a program that has existed in the United States for more than 20 years.

The Grain Valley Police Department will start its own form of a program that has existed in the United States for more than 20 years.

Starting in April, the first Grain Valley Citizen Police Academy will take place for 12 weeks in efforts to educate residents about the police department and its purpose.

Grain Valley Police Chief Aaron Ambrose said the department started its discussions for a citizen police academy about six months ago. The cities of Independence and Oak Grove already have similar academies in place, and Blue Springs had its first academy in 2008.

“The reason why is we wanted to continue to build relationships with our community and feel that they should be aware of what it is that we do,” Ambrose said. “I feel that when you have that joint venture with the community, they have a better idea of what we do. We’re paid for by taxpayers, and they should be able to see what we do.”

The academy will tentatively begin on April 14, with each two-hour weekly class taking place on a Tuesday night for 12 weeks. It also will be offered again in September.

Topics covered in the academy will include the history of the police department; the community services, traffic, drug enforcement, K-9, gang, bomb and communication units; uniform patrol; investigations; special response team; school resource officers and a gun firing range.

Residents must pass a background check and be at least 21 years old. Those residing outside of Grain Valley city limits also can participate in the academy. For more information and an application, visit www.cityofgrainvalley.org/CityNews.htm or visit the Grain Valley Police Department at 711 Main St. 

The academy is available at no cost to residents. Ambrose said the police department’s costs should be minimal since officers’ work schedules will be adjusted accordingly for classes.

The police department is aiming to develop a Volunteers in Police Service program after the conclusion of its first academy, Ambrose said.

Grain Valley Sgt. Jon Davidson said he researched at least six citizen academies, including those in Independence, Lee’s Summit, Elk Grove, Ill., and Austin, Texas, as he developed the curriculum for Grain Valley.

“It’s a great resource and a good education process for the citizens to learn about how the Grain Valley Police Department works in the community and what the officers go through on a daily basis,” Davidson said. “The ultimate goal is to continue with the positive relationship between the citizens of Grain Valley and the police department through education.”

Ambrose also encouraged residents to participate because of their natural curiosity about police departments.

“I hope people are interested in what the police department does in the community,” he said. “I hope we also get people under the program and build on a volunteer program in the future.”

History about citizens police academies:

The concept of the citizen police academy started in 1977 in the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary in Exeter, England. A police night school was implemented and allowed citizens to learn about the organization of police in England. Because of its success, it was permanently adopted as part of an ongoing police public relations effort.

 

In 1985, the Orlando, Fla., Police Department adopted the police night school concept and created the first U.S. citizen police academy. That same year, Missouri City, Texas, adopted the same concept.

 

At its annual conference, the National Citizen Police Academy Association gives several awards to individual and agencies, including CPA Program of the Year, CPA Coordinator of the Year, CPA Alumni Association of the Year and CPA Alumnus of the Year.

Source: The National Citizen Police Academy Association