As part of an ongoing effort to reach out to the surrounding community, the Yale Police Department kicked off the current cycle of its Citizen’s Police Academy yesterday.
The course, directed by Lt. Von Narcisse, will allow 30 members of the Yale community and neighbors to gain new perspectives on their police department — a story that differs from those told by their regular crime report emails. In its curriculum, the YPD will review and discuss various police measures, including patrolling, investigative services, emergencies and use of force. The program, now in its eighth year, has been offered every spring and fall semester. Kitty Parente and other members of the YPD staff designed the course from scratch, recognizing that similar programs have been implemented in some cities of the United States.
To provide additional value to the students, Narcisse and Lt. Jay Jones, who assists Narcisse in teaching the course, plan to introduce the participants to a series of guest speakers, including veteran FBI agents.
“This program allows us to showcase [to members of the Community] the work we do,” YPD Assistant Chief Steven Woznyk said. “Our job is to keep the campus safe and that is our mission.”
Woznyk added that he believes the YPD’s work expands far beyond the Yale Community, noting that much of the department’s work includes neighborhood patrols outside of the Yale community and initiatives to reduce crime.
Students enrolled in the program have different backgrounds — more than half of them are Yale staff, and some of them are graduate students or former students of the University. None of the participants are current Yale undergraduates.
Some students introduced during the course said they were drawn to the Academy to become better citizens. Others said they were members of Yale Security or were attempting to strengthen their resumes to start careers in law enforcement. However, others, including Meghan Connolly, from the Yale Fellowships Programs Staff, chose to become involved in the program to honor long family traditions of getting involved in police or the military.
“I wanted to get to know better the resources that Yale Police offers, and I also might be interested in working in this field in the future, so this could be a good start,” Connolly said before the session began.
Michael Patten, a YPD assistant chief in charge of patrol and support services, said that engaging the community also builds trust between residents and police officers.
He added that this understanding could make it easier for citizens to contact the officers confidently.
“If you don’t know the officers, you’re just calling an institution,” Patten said. “You’re not calling Jay Jones.”
The Citizen’s Police Academy will continue in the YPD’s offices at 101 Ashmun St. for the next five Tuesdays, from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.