The Yale Police Department will kick off its next Citizen Police Academy on March 30.
The program, which will run for six consecutive Tuesday evenings at the YPD’s Ashmun Street headquarters, aims to increase understanding and awareness of the department’s history, operations and capabilities, Chief Ronnell Higgins said. As part of the YPD’s expanded community policing strategy, the police academy, now in its fifth year, is free for those in the Yale or New Haven community.
“We saw this as an opportunity to showcase the commitment, dedication and professionalism of the department while engaging members of our community in the hopes that we could strengthen public trust with the community we serve,” Higgins said.
This year’s police academy will offer an “inside look” at the YPD and includes classroom and hands-on activities. The curriculum features crime scene processing, “CSI vs. Reality” and a showcase of the communications and technology used in modern policing, according to a flyer advertising the program.
An initiative of former YPD Chief James Perrotti, the police academy began after the YPD relocated five years ago from its old headquarters on Sachem Street to the Rose Center in the Dixwell neighborhood, Higgins said.
Twenty-nine members of the Yale and New Haven community, ranging from self-proclaimed “Law & Order” enthusiasts to security professionals, participated in the program last year.
Camille Hardiman GRD ’13, who studies microbiology and attended the academy last fall, said she strongly recommends the program to fellow students. The Citizen Police Academy was “really different, much more involved” than she expected, Hardiman said, adding that she enjoyed meeting the chief and was impressed with his “vision” for the YPD.
“[The program is] part educational, part like sitting in a bar eavesdropping on veteran cops sharing their stories,” she said. “You feel more in control of your safety on campus, and it’s great to recognize the officers on patrol or in the newspaper.”
The police academy is one component of the YPD’s community policing strategy, which also includes walking patrols around Wall Street, Howe Street, Edgewood Avenue and Park Street, Higgins said in a Feb. 9 email to the Yale community.
As part of that strategy, Higgins said the YPD has strengthened its partnership with the New Haven Police Department. Under the leadership of Chief Dean Esserman, the NHPD is reviving community policing strategies first employed in the 1990s. In the past few months, the NHPD has rolled out walking beats to the Elm City’s 10 districts, initiated a weekly department-wide meeting to track crime and ensure accountability and increased the involvement of probation and patrol officers to combat recidivism.
While the NHPD’s community policing tactics waned through the early 2000s, the YPD has maintained its “community-oriented” approach to policing since its inception in 1894, Assistant Chief Michael Patten said in a November email to the News.
“Community safety is best enhanced and ensured when all work together,” he said. “We believe in the value of community understanding of the police and their role and recognize [that] the community has a voice in how police services are provided.”
The Citizen Police Academy will be capped at 30 participants and those interested can register online through the YPD’s website.