Charleston West Virginia Economic Development

Discussions on Economic and Community Development in West Virginia and the Charleston MSA as well as issues of the Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Police Department to Host Citizen Academy

The Charleston Police Department is offering an exciting and different educational experience - Citizen Police Academy (CPA).

The students may include business people, medical professionals, paralegals, media representatives, homemakers, school teachers, clergy, retirees, community activists - citizens from all walks of life. They share an interest in learning more about police work.

The CPA was adopted in 1998 from a similar program in Orlando, Fla, and it has spread nationally with great success. Charleston's program is directed by the Community Services Division of the Charleston Police Department as part of the Public Education/School Services Division’s efforts to foster community involvement.

The CPA’s intent is to increase understanding of a broad range of citizens and the members of the Police Department through classroom exposure and “hands-on” education. Class No. 14 will meet mostly on Tuesday evenings for about three hours during an 11-week term and a re-cap at the graduation.

There is no cost for enrollment in the class. The police department's new Police Training Facility at 118 Dickinson St. will host the classroom sessions in a state-of-the-art facility, with free parking in the City Garage.

The course covers various aspects of police work, including police administration, patrol operations, criminal investigations, drug enforcement, traffic enforcement, crash investigation, crime scene investigation, SWAT, K-9 Patrol, bicycle unit, domestic violence response, youth safety programs and more. The classes utilize an interactive video simulator, staging real-life police action scenarios. The most memorable part of class is usually the optional ride-along in a police cruiser.

Although graduates of the Citizen Police Academy are not prepared for actual duty, they will learn about the workings of a police department and gain insight on the daily life of an officer. Along with the specialties mentioned above, the class will see firsthand the Metro 911 Center, Municipal Court, Police Records Division and Property/Evidence and Booking Sections and will get to know an officer through their ride-along experiences. Graduates gain greater appreciation of the challenges and decisions police officers confront every day, as well as investigative techniques. College students may be able to incorporate aspects of the CPA into
a class project for potential credit.

Through the CPA, citizens can get involved in making Charleston a better place to live or work. Graduates are invited to join the CPA Alumni Association (CPAAA). This independent group acts positively for the benefit of both police and community. Some alumni choose to get more involved in their community and become volunteers in the Neighborhood Assistance Officer (NAO) program.

Those who would like to attend the Citizen Police Academy can contact the Community Services Division at (304) 348-6411, ext. 20. Or fax (304) 348-6815 for an application. Class No. 14 begins Tuesday, Feb. 3 and will graduate May 5. Participants must be over 18 years old and have no convictions for felonies or “serious misdemeanors.” Applications must be received by Jan. 18.

Learn more and download an application at


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